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OurHood, the private digital platform for neighbourhoods, has just launched its official app for Android and iOS. The launch comes in the wake of the online platform securing a second round of funding from its European-based investors, bringing the total raised R2.5-million.
Launched in May 2014, the startup has so far managed to get over 600 neighbourhoods hooked onto its online network. With categories such as Lifestyle, Crime, Chat, Local Deals and so on, the platform’s mission is to give you and your neighbours a private, localised network.
Founders Bruce Good and William Mellor say that OurHood has developed the app mainly because of popular demand. “It’s faster, less loading time and people were simply asking for an app,” says Good. “We also want to incorporate more features with the app.”
Mellor notes that while the traction seen within the last year has mostly been due to word of mouth, he also points out that the verification process has been updated, encouraging more people to join. “People can now sign up with the app by just taking a picture of their utility bill to verify their address.” Previously, people keen to sign up had to send an official postcard via mail. Considering South Africa’s post office woes, this didn’t always work out all too well.
OurHood also recently partnered with major KwaZulu-Natal security firm Blue Security, which has a massive footprint in Durban and its surrounds. The firm gets a dedicated button on the app and a page on the site — as do some local civic organisations — which it can use as a communication channel to both customers and others in clearly-defined neighbourhoods.
“It’s a great relationship where we look after the deep tech, while they focus on what they do best,” explains Good. “Organisations shouldn’t allocate their budget for apps and sites when platforms like OurHood exist.”
The next step for OurHood is to work on the platform’s advertising model. Mellor notes that brands are getting really excited because they can handpick specific locations they want to target. It’s hyperlocal, non-invasive advertising, with no wastage.
The pair further notes that they are an agile company that can test various scenarios. Mellor and Good are about to include a peer-to-peer classifieds section with a detailed directory.
“They are experienced and well versed in the agility required for tech startups,” Good says, referring to the investors. “We’re very lucky that they allow us to be so agile and experiment with new ideas.”
Looking as far as the rest of Africa as well as London and France — where it’s already seen some traction from expats — OurHood hopes to have 50 000 people signed up to the network by the end of this year.