Continuing with our Digital Power Houses series for our Latin Interactive World section, Portada talks to Ricardo Suárez (photo), founder of Yumbling, an entertainment app with personalized information to fit every taste.
At a Glance
Features: City entertainment app, with customized options
Offices: Mexico City
Investors: A group of angel investors
Yumbling is a recently launched social app with a focus on entertainment. According to Ricardo Suárez, the app "compiles information on all kinds of outside-of-the-home entertainment, such as cafes, restaurants, bars, cinema movie listings, theaters, concerts, cultural events, etc. All the information is referenced locally and is offered to the user in a personalized way. Based on the user’s location, time of day, personal likes and genre, we can provide personalized entertainment information."
Given the booming smartphone market, Yumbling is very clear on the importance of mobile and social networks. "We have app versions for iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia and will soon be releasing an Android version as well. Everything is integrated into a social context so you can share information on Twitter and Facebook, share much of your real life entertainment on the platform, and review and share opinions on them with the community at large."
Yumbling’s platform allows the user to see friends’ and other people’s recommendations. You can also see movie trailers and we hope to soon offer the chance to also buy tickets to showings," said Suárez.
Another great feature of the app is that it learns the user’s tastes by starting with a welcome questionnaire, then adding more information from the user’s own activities on the same app.
The app is free and "can be downloaded from all app stores, and registration is quick and simple," he added.
Portada: What kind of results have you had and how many users to date?
Ricardo Suárez: Since the app’s release (on September 12), we’ve had close to 15,000 downloads on different platforms. The truth is we are happy with the results at this stage.
Portada: What are Yumbling’s demographics?
Ricardo Suárez: People between 20 and 40 years old, regardless of gender, and although it’s not a requirement, we also have a web version. But it’s important for the user to have a smartphone, due to GPS requirements.
Portada: How are you capitalizing the company?
Ricardo Suárez: We have only recently launched and our business model is based on targeted advertising. We have some space on the platform that we are seeking to market. Unlike other digital media, we can offer advertising that is quite targeted, because we not only have demographic information, but also information on user tastes, preferences and location.
Portada: What is the interaction between users?
Ricardo Suárez: There is a friendship feature within the platform that is not intended to compete with other current platforms, but to extend them. The user can decide whether to authorize the app to share his/her location and can also make direct recommendations and ask friends for their recommendations. We plan to keep adding new features.
Portada: What are the company’s future goals?
Ricardo Suárez: We want to close the year with a high number of users. We are working on a new version that will be released in the coming weeks, which will make it easier for others to add content to our system. Smartphone penetration is already quite high in the country – in the millions of users – and we are going to aggressively court the highest possible number of users.
Portada: Do you have any international strategy or plan?
Ricardo Suárez: We plan to bring the app to other countries, concentrating more on South America and not so much on the north. We’ve done some preliminary analysis and are thinking of expanding to Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Chile. However, based on our experience, we are better off taking it step by step. We are very focused now on Mexico and want to grow the product before thinking of taking on other markets.
Word of mouth advertising: an organic process
Ricardo Suárez told Portada that in the four weeks since the app’s launch, the process of raising awareness for the app has been very digital and organic, "making it known mainly through blogs, podcasts and video podcasts. We’ve done it by approaching people through social networks, getting to know them and explaining what the platform is all about so that people will make it theirs."
As for advertising on Google and Facebook, the company has decided not to use it: "In general, we have sought to be very organic."
Ricardo Suárez founded Yumbling in 2010. He was previously CEO of JackBe Mexico, a Mexican venture specializing in enterprise software. Prior to that he worked for BtoBen and Accenture. Suárez holds an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley and a BS in Computer Systems Management from ITESM.