Tech start-up Schnap! is taking on the social med ia giants with a fresh approach to bringing people together rather than dividing them.
Schnap! was formed in 2019 with the goal of creating a location-based social media platform to connect people within a 500m diameter. Launched in March 2020, just as the country went into lockdown, the team has worked with GC Business Growth Hub to refine their offering and bring forward roadmap plans.
Co-founder of Schnap!, Martin Taylor (pictured below), talks to the Hub about how working with innovation advisor Samuel Bafunso and the Innovation team has helped them gain the support and experience needed to scale the business.
Social media needs to be about bringing us together
The idea for Schnap! came from a trip to the pub where our team was talking about social media and how it’s all dominated by services where you talk to people you already know rather than meeting new people.
We looked around us and saw everyone on their phones, not really talking to each other, the art of proper conversations seems to have been lost. If you’re going to be on your phone, why not be talking to people actually around you instead?
We started looking at ways for someone to be able to meet people they don’t know on social media, but without having to share personal details or connect with them on social media. There wasn’t really anything out there to do that and that’s how we got started.
From there we developed the concept of Schnap! Spaces, which are 500m diameter chat zones, where anyone within those spaces can talk freely without having to share personal information.
Businesses also need that social element to thrive
We wanted to break that social media mould and when we started building on that idea, we also thought about the businesses that will sit within those Schnap! Spaces, like pubs and restaurants. How can they get involved and communicate with their customers or interact with their local communities and potentially bring custom in?
So, we started to try and bring those two elements together in a hyperlocal marketplace that opens up the potential to bring local community businesses back to the forefront and help them compete with the high street giants.
Like everyone else, we’ve been impacted by lockdown
We launched our app on March 18th (2020) and the country went into full lockdown on the 23rd. Our business model was about people being out in the city centres, socialising, having drinks and eating, so that whole market disappeared almost straight after we launched.
That was a huge setback, but it also gave us the time to take a step back and rethink a few elements of the app. For example, we originally planned that you could only chat if you were physically in those spaces, but we’ve now opened that up so that you can chat in any location in the world, and interact with other people focused on that location, even if none of you are actually there at that time.
The second element that we’ve changed was on the business side. We’d looked at the functionality that you can get at some high street chains where you can order food on their apps while dining at their branches. We wanted to make that kind of functionality available more widely to smaller businesses and we’d had it in our roadmap for later this year, but lockdown gave us the opportunity to bring it forwards.
It was a market that we felt hadn’t really been tapped, but because of the social distancing restrictions that have had to be brought in for these businesses to safely reopen, there’s been 20 or 30 businesses appearing doing the same thing in the last few weeks. But we’ve been able to use this time to work with GC Business Growth Hub and get the funds we needed to be working on this functionality already.
Working with the Hub has helped open our eyes to new directions
Samuel Bafunso (innovation advisor) at the Hub has really been a big help, showing us what help is available, what we can do, opening our eyes and focusing us in certain directions. He’s been fantastic.
We were looking for support and experience in finding the investment needed to scale the business as well as needing guidance on how to further develop our value proposition and gain access to Manchester businesses to help with our revenue streams.
In January I went to the Barclays Eagles pitching event and met Samuel and discussed how he could help us develop a scalable business model and to explore intellectual property. Since then we’ve also discussed various funding and partnership options that we’re now exploring.
Working with Samuel and the Hub has helped us grow our ideas and bring them to market as well as connecting us to local universities and the wider Manchester business community. He’s a good guy!
Unleash your innovation
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The Hub’s innovation specialists will help you shape and strengthen your business to overcome these issues, accelerating the time it takes to bring new products or services to market. Find out more about our comprehensive Innovation Discovery service.