When the app Yo was released earlier this year I was pretty sceptical. It was too simple to not be a giant troll by some bros poking fun at the mobile/app/social space. I mean it was released on April fools day and only did one thing which was to send “Yo” to a friend via a message which without context was pretty useless. My first thought was to create a competing app called WTF Bro!
Surely this was another example of the moral bankruptcy of a tech culture obsessed with gimmicks and gags rather than creating meaningful stuff.
Yo has now received $1.5 million in funding from a group which includes Pete Cashmore from Mashable and the app has been downloaded more than 2 million times. Impressive numbers.
They have also announced an update to the app which introduced user profiles, attachments, and a platform which allows anyone to create a service to monitor pretty much anything, and hashtags which according to Yo are an “easy way for people to show their love for a cause”. They have created a sharing, marketing, notification, and monitoring platform with an open API.
I like that Yo first created a minimum viable product (MVP) and then continued developing the product into “a 2-way communication platform between people, websites, brands, businesses and virtually anything that can connect to the internet.” Even if you think that this description of the product is gilding the lily, Yo is a very simple case-study of the Lean Startup methodology as articulated by Eric Ries in action. Forgotten your password? Well that’s kind of a manual process to retrieve. This prioritisation is smart. Focus on the messaging and network building features, and have processes to handle the other stuff like password resetting. Yo is yet more proof that the lean startup process works.
The messaging space is very crowded but the conversations about Yo reminds me of when Twitter was first released and people were outraged that it was so simple and protested that it was too simple, too restrictive. A few years later and Twitter is a billion dollar business with an innovative advertising and marketing platform. Hopefully for the Yo founders, they will have a similar journey and reap similar rewards.