Qooh.me: ‘A carnival fun ride of questions’

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Ever wanted to know something about your friends or someone you know but were too afraid to ask? Wish there was an app for that? There probably is, but there is a also a web-service.

Enter Qooh.me, the apparent answer to your problem. Qooh.me is a “web application that allows you to ask your friends or people you find interesting open and anonymous questions in order to get to know them better,” says creator, Vincent Mabuza.

The service essentially takes users back to the rudimentary processes of anonymous, online interaction. It is a bit of a throwback to the days of IRC and Yahoo chats, with a few 21st century improvements, including the option to connect on Facebook.

The 23-year old Mabuza is excited by the project. “When sign-ups hit 8 000, I started to get excited, there are now more than 170 000 registered Qooh.me users”, he says.

By going back to an IRC-like route, Qooh.me simplifies the chatting process by taking away the clutter of social noise. Great as anonymity is, however, people always end up revealing themselves and according to Qooh.me it has turned the concept of social selfishness into a “carnival fun ride of questions”.

The idea for Qooh.me came from similar services in the US and Europe such as goaqoo.com. Anyone can visit your Qooh.me profile and ask you a question. The profile can be linked up to your Facebook or Twitter account to get your friends in on the action but the system of questions and answers remains as private as you want it to be.

For those who want their Twitter and Facebook friends to send them messages, all they need to do is simply post as their status “send me more questions at www.qooh.me/username”. The target audience has been described by the creator as “Everyone who uses social networks, professional people who would like to share information as well as brands or companies that would like people to get to know their products or business better, further allowing others to see this information.” So basically Qooh.me is everyone’s space.

The South African-based startup launched in May 2011. It will eventually become part of the Lonvin Tech group, the name of the company Mabuza hopes to establish. The company is self-funded and is run with very few employees. Mabuza speaks of giving something back in the future to those who assisted in the marketing of the site and those who helped to boost it with various strategies.

Mabuza says that Qooh.me fills a gap in the market which “satisfies people’s curiosity about others and provides them with ability to get a deeper understanding regarding the anonymous users of the internet.”

So far it is a simple question and answer service but Mabuza has plans to extend its functionalities as users grow.

Mabuza has already had an offer of about R450 000 to buy the service. “I figure they just wanted the database. I thought about it, but I want to grow the site further before I consider selling it.”

The service has been developed for mobile, though Mabuza has focused primarily on BlackBerry devices as they are more popular in South Africa but mobile web browsers such as Opera Mini have been catered for.

The service will not branch out internationally and will remain within the continent of Africa as “there is no-one local who can compete,” according to Mabuza. There are lofty plans for Qooh.me and in five years time, Mabuza hopes to have built the “the largest business-to-business-to-consumer marketplace in the continent as well as creating other hot internet properties locally”.

So far it looks like Qooh.me is just another social space that requires a user’s attention and constant updating. As we head toward a more “open web” with platforms like Google+ insisting that users sign-up with their real names, though, perhaps this is the one place you can at least be anonymous.

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