Tapping The Right Veins With My City Pulse
Have you ever sat at home during the weekends being bored and wondering what you should do for the rest of the day? Or just wanting to go out but not knowing where? Well, you should head over to the App Store or the Play Store and download a domestic app called My City Pulse. You will not regret it. Why you will not regret it, is because the app is pretty much your one stop solution to know about what is happening in the city. The app has consistently grown over the few months since its inception, and seems to be continuing to do so in the coming days. So, to know more about this new wonder app we sat down with Ms. Shalini Rana and Mr. Kavin Shah, the co-founders of My City Pulse.
How did the idea of My City Pulse came to be?
When me and my partner, Kavin, were doing our Masters, we were very much focused on social media. Our university was specializing in social media at the time and we would do workshops for them and the alumni as well. Our dissertation too was based on social media, focusing more on the psychological profiling and people’s behavior on social media. When we came back, we did social media consulting for Hotel Annapurna and Himalayan Java, and then, we sort of laid low for a while. That’s when we came to the realization that Nepal does not have a local platform.
A lot of people are online these days and social media is increasing 10 folds year after year. Internet is cheaper now, there’s more 3G, everyone has a smart phone, and access to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is readily available. But there is nothing that is focused on the local populace of the city. So we wanted to create a social media platform with a focus and not be a knock-off of Facebook or the sort. We wanted a platform in which one could go on to and know everything that’s going on in the city. We wanted it to be mass and really cheap.
“What we found was that rather than the local people, it was more useful for tourists.”
How does My City Pulse work?
We came up with a couple of concept ideas. When we started out, it was more like an event promotion and a live map for the people to get directions towards the event. What we found was that rather than the local people, it was more useful for tourists. So we focused more for the tourist.
Now, basically, My City Pulse is a tourist app, and also something you want to use to connect everything in the city; from stores to restaurants, from nightlife to hotels. We realized that people here don’t really use social media to their advantage, and that as an economy, we’re really late to the game. We’re just adopting it. Furthermore, we saw that it was a hassle for new businesses to put themselves out there on Facebook. So we started doing something to cater them.
We designed the app, which took us about 6 to 7 months to come out with and get approved by Android and IOS. We needed real lifeelements in our app, and were able to get more than hundred media partners and businesses to beta test it. And then we found so many bugs and things we wanted to change, work better and look better. And from refining everything, we’ve got to where we are now. We have set up a homepage where we put out our recommendations for the tourists.
What we also realized with the app is that there isn’t anyone doing cross collaboration with someone in another field. Businesses have their own enterprise and they market themselves directly. So we are turning into a cross collaboration platform between the businesses. We wanted to get ourselves out there not just through the parties, but also from the art side of Nepal. We became app partners with Ekadeshma Film Festival, then we did Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival, and recently with Kathmandu Triennale. In this way we’re getting there, slowly but definitely. It’s really hard to know everything that’s happening around but since we’re enabling the people to know most of it, they are liking us for it.
And with the cross collaboration we are going for, we have been able to intrigue a lot of people. For instance, on the 21st of March, with Kathmandu Triennale and Annapurna Cake Shop, we did an artsy cake event. The Cake Shop provided the cakes for the artists from the Triennale to design and it was nice high tea event in the Annapurna garden. People came to us and asked us if we were the organizers and we told them that we were actually the connectors. And that’s who we really are.
When we look at even the simplest form of marketing, anywhere in the world, one would look up data and come up with solutions on how to work with it. However, here, there is no platform to look up such data. Now, some business do it, but what they work with is too little to come up with something that’s solid and effective. So through this platform, not only we want to connect, but also we want to give the businesses the data to make make themselves better. We want to help them to come up with ideas, see what others are doing, and encourage them to try what works and what doesn’t.
Our city is not really that big, yet we have a lot to offer. And if we can connect it all, it becomes more vibrant. Now, on Facebook, the events that you see are just the ones that you have been invited to or from the pages that you have liked. Furthermore, these events are not really that transparent. So we made My City Pulse an app that serves as a one-stop-solution for staying connected and knowing what’s happening in the city.
How are the responses?
When we started out, we looked at the scope of the world and with the growing availability of internet, it seemed doable. More and more people are getting on it and accessing artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality and them meshing up with our actual reality, it’s something that going to happen in the near future and something we can’t comprehend right now. And then there’s our city. We are just learning how to connect our phones to the wifi. The internet hasn’t even proliferated to 60% of the people. But then again, things are looking up. Huge multinational companies are working to get the whole world connected and soon, our villages will be connected too. In the future, data is everythings, and for Nepal, we don’t have a platform that accumulates data.
Initially, we had our skeptics, but they went away by the enthusiasm and positive responses from a lot of people. We were actually surprised, pleasantly of course, to get over a hundred beta partners. Even though some did not entirely grasp what we were going to do, they still wanted to be a part of us and that really gave us more confidence.
Where do you stand with the competition?
When we researched, there were a lot of companies, websites and even apps that show what’s going on and the events that are happening. What we think that really sets us apart from them is that they are not interactive. Now, we haven’t gotten there yet, but we have a common section where the user can share events through their Facebook. We have a Get Offer feature in which the user gives us their phone number, we pass it on to our partner businesses and they send offers and promotions to the user via SMS. That way, a two way communication is established and in ways, that is interactive.
What are the challenges that you have encountered?
We would say that the major obstacle for us was to get the app to work the way it does now. We had to update it for god know how many times. We had to fix bugs over night and really overclock the tech team just to get it working the way we want it to. We do hope to get more help on that side and set up a bigger team of coders and make the app better.
What is in store for My City Pulse in the future?
We want to make My City Pulse a cross collaboration platform, where we can connect the business owners, vendors and marketers so that they can make their marketing and services better. It is a working process but we want to come up with a section just for them. The next thing is our Home tab, which was primarily made for the hotels in mind. Our main target was the tourist audience, so when they type in a certain code we’ve assigned for the various hotels, a separate page comes up. It’s like an entirely different app specifically for one hotel, where they can have their own tiles with their own specifics, services and details. We want to make it easier and more convenient for the tourists and add to our Nepalese hospitality. We are also in talks with Hotel Associations and we hope they come through and aid us in making the app much better.