The inspiration to start Reach came from an experience that one of our founders had when they experienced a rare medical issue and wanted to speak with someone who had the same problem. Searching on Google just brought information results but not real people, and relevant forums had last been updated months before. So we understood the bigger picture: that despite the many existing ways to connect, it is still very challenging to find and chat to people beyond your social and professional circles. A major reason for this is because of reputation and privacy issues online, hence we made Reach anonymous to solve this.
Who is Reach aimed at?
Reach is mostly aimed at university students who can use it to discover and chat with other like-minded students at their university, who study the same subject, share their hobbies and interests or can offer peer-to-peer advice about all sorts of aspects of university life. In addition, you can reach people by searching for users by characteristics with which they define themselves. For example, a first year male English student at UCL could find and instant message with an Englishstudent in the year above (to ‘borrow’ their essays!) or another student who also shares their passion for golf, or a girl who also loves theatre to take on a date.
How does Reach stand out against it’s competitors?
There are several apps in the area of messaging, chat rooms, broadcasting and anonymity, each of which has it’s own unique features. Chat apps are typically to connect either with friends, in a chat room or more recently by location. Today it is still surprisingly difficult to find people by their characteristics, skills, hobbies, interests, unique attributes etc, and Reach will enable people to do this via its keyword-based people search. On Reach, each user has a short text profile where they can define their interests, hobbies, skills, characteristics and more. Never before has ‘what’ a person is been the context for chat, and combined with location this is even more powerful.
Why do you believe anonymity is important?
Anonymity is really just a feature of our app, whose main aim is to connect people by ‘what’ they are rather than ‘who’ they are. Saying that, anonymity is the crucial feature, that allows users of Reach to be able to discover and chat with people outside of their social circles. Platforms, such as Facebook, which use your real identity, are built for connecting to people within your social circles and privacy and reputation concerns prevent people from reaching beyond that.
What do you most enjoy about running Reach?
I love the huge variety in my day-to-day activities – from analyzing data, to brainstorming new ideas and features, to testing the app on real users, to pitching our idea to investors and more!
You grew up in the UK, what made you decide to move to Israel and start a company there?
I moved to Israel 4 years ago, partly for the weather (who wouldn’t say no to sunshine 11 months of the year!), and also for the culture. I originally came on a 6-month internship program, and fell in love with the country. I worked for a couple of years at companies until I was fully exposed to the start-up scene in Tel Aviv and wanted to be a part of it!
What are you thoughts on the Israeli start-up scene?
Israel is known as ‘The Startup Nation’ and it really is an amazing environment to build your own business. Every coffee shop is full of individuals working on the ‘next big thing’, there are start-up networking events every night, there are start-up hubs all over Tel Aviv and a lot of very inspiring people to meet with.
What does your normal day look like?
There is no ‘normal’ day, which makes it both exciting and challenging! I can usually be found somewhere between the start-up hub where our team is based, meetings with investors and other entrepreneurs, or out and about testing our app with students and others.
How do you, and the team use Reach?
Since we are all entrepreneurs, we have used Reach to discover and chat with people nearby who are also in the start-up world to ask questions, get advice, share experiences and more.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is Test, Test, Test! Even if you think you have the best idea since sliced bread, and your whole team agrees with you, don’t start developing the product/feature until you have tested the idea on real potential users!
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Our greatest achievement has definitely been putting together a killer team! We are all like family, having known one another for years, which has such a huge, positive impact on our work. Another big achievement was raising a not-insignificant initial round of funding from friends and family who really believed in us and the idea right from the beginning!
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with Reach?
In the coming year our aim is to grow Reach to 1 million users who gain real added value from using the app to connect with like minded people around them: at their university, workplace or in their neighbourhood.
What advice can you give to newcomers to your industry, or the start-up space in general?
My main piece of advice is that there is no such thing as a good idea, it’s all about how you execute it. Some very average ideas have seen great successes, whilst other incredible ideas never took off the ground due to poor execution.
Reach is now available to download on the app store.