Sneak peek: Yobongo for iPhone

Justin Cauchon February 23, 2011 1

Remember back in the 90s, perusing those AOL chat rooms? Those sort of phased out with the increase in spammers.

Meet Yobongo. It is revitalizing the chat room on its iPhone and is doing so in a way to foster genuine real-time conversations with people around you. Yobongo’s app is incredibly simple in a good way. Open up the app and you are connected to a conversation happening around you. The rooms sizes are typically have around 10 people so it is easy to interact and join the conversation. There can be multiple rooms for different locations so they will never be overloaded with a sea of users. The iPhone app will utilize the built-in GPS to connect you with those in locations around you. Since Yobongo is set to launch at SXSW, the company will be able to connect the attendees with other attendees near them at the event.

Yobongo was created by Caleb Elston and David Kasper, who both came from to create this start-up. They have done a great job at making the app flow in a way that is simple, yet perfect for what it does. I am confident that this will become a successful and widely used chat experience once publicly released. The two are funding the start-up with their own funds, but are in talks with investors to gain more funding. Eventually, the app will be monetized with location-based ads, but how that will be done is still unclear. The two co-founders explain the app and its functions in the quote found on VentureBeat below.

Yobongo is a fun new way to chat with people around you. It’s a place for authentic conversations with people who are physically nearby, whom you might not know yet. There are many services focused on the people you know. We’re interested in helping you connect with people you might not.

Using Yobongo is simple. Open the app and you’re instantly chatting with real people nearby. Find someone really interesting? Start a private conversation. Yobongo is there for you when you have a few minutes waiting in line at the coffee shop, hanging out around campus, enjoying a concert — any time you want to connect with real people. Yobongo is serendipitous conversations.

I’ve been using Yobongo for a little over a day and have had trouble pulling myself away from the conversations. I find myself constantly logging on when I have a free second to read the history and interact with some great people who are also included in the private beta. Currently, the private beta is limited to about 90 users as of February 23 so I’ve found it easy to connect with the same people time and time again. However, you are encouraged to sign up for the private beta here and you will be contacted to join if chosen. The app is still being improved with more features that will enhance the user experience, but you’ll be instantly addicted if this is your type of thing. The location-based part of the app has not yet been added since the beta is still limited to a small amount of people, but we are excited to see what they come up with.

Make sure to check out the HD version of their introduction video that highlights the best points of the app below:

We also recommend checking out an interview that Robert Scoble recorded with co-founder Caleb Elston that really goes in depth with the concept of the app, the future of the app, and the business model:

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