March 8, 2016

The missing social network in India!

With Facebook and LinkedIn being so ubiquitous, we have all the social network that we need and more, right? Think again. We are missing a social network for one of the most important communities in our lives: the neighbourhood. By neighbourhood, I don’t mean just your apartment complex. Everyone in Marathahalli or Velachery should be able to connect with each other and form a private network that they can tap into anytime. As an example, US already has a popular neighbourhood social network named Nextdoor.

Why should we care about Neighbours?
In December last year, all hell broke loose in Chennai due to heavy rains. Most of the city was flooded with some homes surrounded by upto 10 feet of water. Chennai residents who had never seen such a thing happen before, did not leave their homes before the flooding. As a result, they were stuck in their homes with no electricity and little food/water for upto 3-4 days. Amidst all this, something magical happened. Neighbours who they have never seen/talked to before started helping by providing food packets, water bottles and rescuing elderly people/kids out of their homes. I am sure several folks in chennai realized the importance of having good relationship with neighbours. Imagine what if these neighbours were already in touch via a social network. Starting from communication to collaboration, everything would have been easier.

Benefits of a neighbourhood social network

Apart from finally getting to know the people living nearby, neighbourhood networks have many other uses. This has been proved by the unicorn startup Nextdoor in US. Started in 2010, Nextdoor has millions of users in 93000 US neighbourhoods. Registered neighbours discuss about security issues/car thefts, get recommendations for good plumbers or other service providers, sell unused household items to nearby residents etc. Nextdoor even ties up with government agencies and police departments to serve their users with updates regarding their neighbourhood. 

The case for Hyperlocal classifieds

Classifieds works best when it is hyperlocal. Ask yourself, would you buy a pre-owned mobile phone from someone two streets away maybe after multiple visits or would you travel half way across the city wasting time, energy and fuel just to find out that the screen is broken? When I decided to move from US to India in June last year, I found Nextdoor very useful to sell many household items to neighbours. Even the popular classifieds platform Craigslist wasn’t very helpful because there’s too much noise there. That’s when I realized that a social network like Nextdoor would be great to have in India too. And that’s how was born. Just one month after release, we have 2000+ users in Bangalore and Chennai. Our users are helping each other to find good PG or apartment, to find basketball/shuttle courts and players or to find neighbours with similar interests.

To conclude

The more you network, the more you benefit, they say. Why miss out on the neighbourhood network? Maybe you can borrow a used book or find a job opportunity from a neighbor who is in the same field as you. With some luck, you may even find a good friend or life partner! Start exploring!


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