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Israeli app to create location-based communities launches Aug. 2

Tags: Business Israel
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TEL AVIV — YouHoo, to be launched Aug. 2, is an Israeli mobile app that could change location-based social networking.

The application is designed to help users feel the “vibe” of wherever they are by showing them who is around and giving them the ability to contact people in their area.

The app is available on both iOS and Android platforms.

“Our concept is to merge reality with a social network,” said Ohad Assoulin, YouHoo’s CEO and a graduate of Technion - Israel Institute of Technology.

“Basically, it’s an application that turns groups of people in any location into a living community.”

YouHoo allows its users to socialize with those around them in different ways, such as through chat, statuses and check-ins. User profiles are based on their Facebook profiles, enabling them to see if people around them have shared interests or friends in common.

When they open the application, users see themselves at the centre of a virtual map that shows everyone within a 200 to 1,000 metre radius. Each user shows up on the map as a square avatar – with photos taken from Facebook. Direct friends are outlined in pink, while friends of friends are coloured in blue and people with no mutual friends appear in white.

YouHoo’s newsfeed shows registered users all the people who came into and left their radius, as well as updated statuses from people in their area. “The idea is that you come to a location and you can get the vibe of what’s happening around you,” Assoulin said.

Since YouHoo profiles are generated from Facebook, all interests and likes, as well as personal information such as age or gender, show up in the app. This means that users can check out how relevant someone’s feedback is for them. For example, if another user’s taste in music is similar to yours, his or her opinion about the show you are queuing up for will most likely be similar to yours.

YouHoo also has a talk feature. From each user’s profile you can initiate a chat.

Another way to find people in YouHoo is through a “circles” tab. The application scans users’ profiles and sorts them into relevant “circles,” such as students at Tel Aviv University, reporters, or even people who like Pink Floyd.

Assoulin said that other location-based services such as Badoo or Grindr focus on individual connections and some, like Foursquare, have become “coupon applications.” YouHoo, he stressed, is trying to avoid this so-called dating scene. Despite this, YouHoo also offers a “YouHoo” button, which like the comparable Facebook “poke,” is a way to let someone know you are near and interested in talking.

After a pilot program in Israel ends, the application will have its official launch in the United States in Austin, Texas. By this time, a new feature that can potentially monetize the application will be available: the option to create events – anything from a flash mob to a game of beach volleyball.

This feature will be free to users, but will only be seen by those within their YouHoo range. Businesses will be charged to create events, but their events will be seen in greater distances, up to five kilometres. Such events could be to launch parties or even discounts that are enabled once a YouHoo user checks into the venue.

The founders, Assoulin, his brother Asaf Asulin, Roni Tesler and Tamir Isack started developing YouHoo in September 2011. They are currently funding the project themselves.

Assoulin told NoCamels that they are in the process of signing with investors, but cannot yet disclose names and are continuing to raise capital.

Aya Ephrati writes for NoCamels

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