Klos Founders See Opportunity in Social Messaging Market
Is there room in the mobile messaging space for another startup to gain a foothold? The team at Klos is certainly hoping so. The social location-based messaging network connects people in real-time with friends in their immediate vicinity. It also leverages gamification and FOMO through location-based messaging, which Klos Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer James Hamilton sees as one of the keys to inspiring in-person engagement and experiences.
“Ultimately, we are on a mission to bring people together in person and bridge the divide created by existing social networks,” Hamilton says.
Hamilton envisions Klos someday becoming “Slack for social,” but in order to get there, he’ll have to gain significant traction in a crowded market.
Like so many other startups, Klos is being marketed as a solution to a problem. In this case, the company’s founders see the problem as social media being inherently anti-social. Original broadcast sharing on legacy social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is on the decline. Messaging services like WhatsApp and iMessage are incredibly popular, but they don’t help people expand their social networks. While there are existing services, like Tinder and Bumble, that combine messaging and network expansion, they almost all fall into the dating app category.
Together with co-founder Alex Stroud, Hamilton is working to position Klos as the answer to antisocial social apps. He believes that the hyper-connected modern world lacks authenticity, citing the 11+ hours American adults spend looking at screens each day and the 46% of Americans who report feeling lonely on a regular basis as evidence of a larger social problem.
“We are on a mission to bring people together in person and bridge the divide created by existing social networks,” Hamilton says.
Stroud and Hamilton have created a social messaging network designed to get people off their phones, with the potential to also create value in the retail, hospitality, real estate, food, promotions, and local news spaces.
“Given our deep involvement in the industry, Alex and I noticed ourselves and our peers becoming increasingly disillusioned with legacy social media platforms. We feel that social media is no longer delivering on its initial value proposition of increased personal connectivity,” Hamilton says.“There is a fundamental misalignment of interests. People want to use social media to facilitate real human connection, but social media platforms are incentivized to keep us glued to our screens.”
When people open up the Klos mobile app, they can see which other users are close by and they can create groups to chat with those nearby users through their phones. Then, if they choose, they can connect with other Klos users via real-life get-togethers.
Unlike many other players in the space, Klos’ founders have decided not to integrate their application with existing social networks. Instead, Klos syncs with a device’s contacts list and organizes users’ contacts by real-time proximity. The app does not display the exact location of its users.
Between the location-based messaging functionality and the mutual contacts view, there are many different use cases for Klos. Hamilton envisions the app being used for dating, travel, and events, as well as professional networking.
Since Klos launched in public beta in May, it has generated 549 downloads and 25,000 unique sessions. It should come as no surprise that the app is especially popular in large, dense cities, like New York, Boston, Miami, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon. Early data shows that usage also tends to spike on Fridays and Sundays.
Identifying those early usage trends has helped Hamilton and his team identify a path forward for the platform as they continue to grow and bring on new users. While they aren’t talking about specifics just yet, there’s little doubt that the future of Klos will involve some version of the app’s proven use cases, including travel, data, and professional networking.
“This path forward is an evolution of the product as it currently stands and will certainly deliver on our mission of bringing friends together face-to-face, decreasing social friction, and getting people off of their screens,” Hamilton says. “We truly feel that the iteration we are currently working on is a technology platform that will become ubiquitous in modern social lives.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.