Planning drinks or events with your friends seems has moved to Facebook or Whatsapp, but there’s still some room for a startup to value-add. One to check out is Helsinki-based Planify has just launched to help you put the pieces together. At the basic level they provide a location and event directory with a social focus. Clicking on a location gives you shows you the information you need, like a map, photo, opening hours, and and user comments and photos, so sort of like Yelp in that respect. But the real focus is in the name – making it easy to plan to meet up with your friends.
By viewing a location you can either add it generally to your to-do list, or you can plan it with your friends. So if you want to meet up at Bar 9 you can click the “plan this” button to add a time, and start adding friends. Additionally, once your friends start making open plans, you can find them in your friends feed, where you can request to join.
“At the moment it’s very basic- a basic event directory and basic planning,” says Enric Fabra, Planify’s CEO. “But in the next week or two we’re going to have reservations for restaurants, so when people are doing activities they can book it from the site.”
But he says what differentiates Planify from Fonecta and Yelp is that they will soon have more than just static venues. For example they’re adding concerts, movies playing at the cinema, and other content like that.
Once those are out, the next feature they’re building is more of an open chat method of planning events, which Fabra says is more in line with human nature.
“When people are planning something to do either in person or on phone it usually starts with a blank plan. So tomorrow night you might have a time set, like after work or whatever. So we’re going to start with a blank screen, and a text input asking ‘what do you want to do.’ You could answer drinks after work, and then you select the friends you want to go with, and then you start a chat field.”
Users can then plan out the time they want to meet and suggest places in the directory within their text using the @ symbol. The thinking here is that if you’re talking to your friends on Facebook chat, you some of your friends might need to look up the place, address, and opening times on Google, so it makes sense to have all that location information right there. Your friends can also then vote on places, giving you a more democratic choice.
To make money, they’re planning on taking a cut of the restaurant and other bookings further down the road, as well as promoting some events in their directory. We’ve seen a number of startups attempt this “general planning” space, but the critical mass of users required to make it worthwhile to users and advertisers will be an uphill battle.
After they get their next feature-set out in Helsinki, they plan to hit some other European cities, but to do so, they need to work more hands-on in each place to get access to the event feeds that differentiate themselves from Yelp and other directories, making it somewhat hands-on, but not impossible to scale.
But in my opinion one of the best things Planify has going for it is it’s design aesthetic. I’m liking it because I’ve seen enough bubbly pastel boxes to fill a lifetime, and Planify’s bold colors and shapes are a nice touch. Helsinki was the Word Design capital last year, but really it doesn’t seem like it’s translated into innovative startup webpage design just yet.
With their launch, they’re throwing a launch party at Aussie Club on Thursday the 16, so just in a couple days. They’ll have Hawaiian leis to give out and cheap drinks set up – €3.50 from the tap, and the event is free to go to between 8 and 9pm. After that it’s €5 to get in, but if you think you’ll show up later they say you can stop by their office on Erottajankatu this week to get a free entrance ticket, and maybe a t-shirt before they run out.