Amikoo.com was a Web 2.0 social networking startup for high school and college students in Mexico, we were the first truly local social network in the country.
From idea to launch, I was the driver and oversaw all decisions behind Amikoo. I acted as founding partner, project manager, application designer, web designer, as well as brand, marketing and PR manager.
The project started in 2006 with meticulous research into all aspects of the emerging field of social networking, followed by the first drafts of the site which drew inspiration from similar examples present around the world. After some difficulty in finding the right people to work on the project and securing the right funding, we moved on to the development stage in the first quarter of 2007.
After many setbacks and missed deadlines the social network was launched in July 2007. Afterwards, the team focused on making improvements by listening to user feedback. I concentrated my efforts in executing a web marketing and PR strategy aimed at getting Mexican students to sign up and share the site, our biggest competitor was Hi5. Nurturing word of mouth was the most effective tactic for getting new users but we also used email marketing, SEO, an in-house blog and offline press.
Amikoo suspended operations in the first quarter of 2008 owing to considerably slowing user registrations which we believe were caused by:
a. Facebook booming and leaving everyone behind thanks to three key strategic moves: Opening up to people other than their original student target (while securely owning that base), translating the site into many more languages (including Spanish as one of the first), and the launch of their “game changing” f8 application platform.
b. A very crowded and quickly consolidating Social Networking market.
c. Barrier to new registrations caused by the “all my friends are already on another site” syndrome – making it hard for people to switch from a site they had already invested considerable time in.
d. Investor support was withdrawn after registered and active user targets among other milestones were not met on agreed time.
e. General timing. When it comes to Internet startups, a few months sooner to market can make all the difference.
Despite Amikoo not gaining serious traction as a social networking platform, it was a successful proof of concept that generated a small fan base and enough buzz to be noticed at a national level in Mexico.
A few highlights:
Gift shop with virtual currency called “koo”. The idea was to develop the shop into a mobile micropayment platform similar to those prevalent in Asian social networks such as CyWorld.
User uploaded and maintained public media gallery for enhancing profiles (A content app store for profiles, if you will). Each item in the gallery was a widget or other embeddable content and users could rate and comment on these “Kubos”.
Secret admirer/crush feature. You could try to “fish” for someone you fancied, then if the other person “fished” you back, a private “connection” would be made between the two.
Public pages for schools and cities to discuss topics, publicize events, vote on polls, share media and carry out other “socializing” activities.