Banjo is a social discovery app for iPhone and Android that lets you view people’s social network profiles based on their location. The app allows its users to access their “social superpowers” by notifying then when something important around them is happening. Whether its a close friend at the same grocery store, their favorite band playing or an interesting conversation about an important topic Banjo alerts you.
Banjo is a finalist at this years Microsoft BizSpark sponsored SXSW Interactive Accelerator. On Monday, I was able to speak with Banjo’s Founder Damien Patton about his companies fast start and its vision of becoming “the engine that will power location and social.”
What inspired the creation of Banjo?
This is the fourth start-up I’ve been involved in, but Banjo is quickly becoming the most successful one thus far. I remember leaving class one day at MIT in Boston and going back home which is Las Vegas. When I got home, I realized that a really good friend of mines was at the same airport as me but we missed each other. I didn’t receive a notification or anything, so I thought to myself there’s got to be a way to solve this problem. We should not have to open up a cell phone or post on a social network to get these important updates and we definitely shouldn’t be missing out on the important things in life like seeing your friends and loved ones when they are near. We have been out for 6 months and already have 600,000 users. We are gaining around 100k new users per month, and as of yesterday Apple chose Banjo app of the week.
How have you been so successful in a short period of time?
It’s all been viral. It hasn’t been through marketing at all, just people using our service liking it and sharing it with their friends. People in the music industry have been using Banjo a lot. They have been reaching out to us lately. Blondie used it on her last tour to engage her fans more. We also were at SF Music Tech a few weeks ago and spoke with reps of several major artists who we never thought were using our app and we were able to give them a quick crash course on how they could better use it to engage their audience. It’s just one of those ideas that when a person opens up Banjo and they are able to see the world around them they will automatically want to share it with their friends. It’s pretty cool because we are going to hit the 1 million mark way before our first year.
How does Banjo work? How I usually explain it is Banjo gives you super powers. It allows you to go anywhere in the world and know what’s going on. If I’m not able to go to a concert in NY; I can go to Banjo and see who is there, who is posting pictures and tweeting from there. Also, your friends don’t have to be on Banjo, but if your friend are on Twitter and Facebook you will be able to see if they are nearby. It’s taking the same concept as “friend alerts” and delivering it as event alerts and possibly any type of alert you can think of. It’s giving you those magical moments that you don’t have to go online and search for.
What are some Banjo’s best features?
#1 we have the most advanced friend alert system in the world. #2 is in the new Banjo you can search for anything that is important to you and it will show you all the people around you or anywhere in the world who are talking about it or have the same interests. If I wanted to talk about Rihanna, it will show all the people around me who are talking about Rihanna. It searches the entire social graph and is able to deliver results based on any location in real time.
What is your long-term vision for Banjo?
Banjo is not an app company, we are a technology company. The underlying technology that powers Banjo is the really long-term vision. Our mission is to help give you (the user) real notifications for your life. We want your phone to be able to tell you when something important is happening around you. We are building the ultimate connection engine. The engine that will power location and social is the ultimate vision for Banjo.