Interviews L.A. Startups

This Is The Messaging App For Startups, Or Any Other Vertical Interest For That Matter

Los Angeles: Former Yik Yak Staffer And Friends Create Local Interest Driven App Startup, Pinguin

Pinguin-top This Is The Messaging App For Startups, Or Any Other Vertical Interest For That Matter

Barely a month old, a new interest focused messaging app has hit the iOS store, and it very well could be the app you’ve been looking for. The app is called Pinguin and it was created by Josh Purvis, Devon Woodruff, and Bryan O’Reilly. Before you go chastising another startup trying to revolutionize the chat, this is entirely different.

I wouldn’t put Pinguin in the corner with other apps that are trying to force friendships. It’s more like a chat app where you’re encouraged to just jump in the conversation about whatever the topic is. When I signed up I said my interests were startups, electronics and gadgets. I thought about hitting politics and activism but I get enough of that crap on Facebook.

If I had to call it an X for X it would be Yik Yak for grownups and there’s good reason for that, co-founder Devon Woodruff worked at Yik Yak in it’s short, but oh so glorious hey day. Co-Founder Bryan O’Reilly called Pinguin, “Slack for interests” and I could agree there as well.

There are a lot of chat apps and a lot of friend finder apps, we’ve seen them all. Pinguin is setting itself apart by offering almost three chat apps in one.

“We set ourselves apart from the other players with the different layers of communities; National: Chat with everyone on the app that shares your interest,  Local: Chat with only people in your city that share your interest and Proximity: Chat exclusively with people at a specific event or venue” Woodruff told in an interview.

Pinguin fits in a space that’s not as public and noisy as Facebook and not as secretive as SnapChat or Cyberdust. Like I said you can jump right into a stream and just start talking about the topic. In the startup topic a lot of the conversation was about the LA, Silicon Beach. I was able to jump right in and ask about something totally different. Of course as the community grows, it may not be so embracing but it’s great for now.

There are a couple other apps in the same space like SHOUT, but Pinquin is really driven on the interest piece. They rather unite people through interests rather than have people that know each other come in and clique up. It’s almost like networking events online.

The interest based conversation worked to a degree with Yik Yak, at a way less mature level. Where Yik Yak streams could talk about the big party with all the Kappa Delta girls, and everyone would jump right in, here you can talk startup event, investment, product or an assortment of other topics. They even have an animal lovers section.

With Pinguin you do provide your location at sign up and a photo, the world witnessed how anonymity could kill a messaging startup, the folks at Pinguin saw that first hand.  The team will also incorporate community owners and admins as they scale, Purvis explained through the app. (we actually used Pinguin to finish this interview).

“There is a lot of clutter on social, we want to create a community where its easy to find and talk to people that care about the same things that you do. We’ve seen a lot of power in local apps like Yik Yak bringing people together, but we’ve also seen them cause serious problems due to anonymity. We’ve also seen a bunch of interest-based slack communities pop up in the last year. We want to make those communities more discoverable and accessible.” Woodruff said.

Pinguin2 This Is The Messaging App For Startups, Or Any Other Vertical Interest For That Matter

Early on, investors backed Yik Yak because of it’s local feel and anonymity. As a growth hacker for Yik Yak, Woodruff realized the opportunity on the local side of the business. He brought up a way to embrace it, and since the disbanding of Yik Yak, the product he came up with has evolved into Pinguin. Woodruff now spends his time working for Gary V and bootstrapping Pinguin with his co-founders and roomates.  Perhaps the name also comes from the affinity with animals, Yik Yak, Pinguin??

The founders are all buddies and live together in a big blue house in Los Angeles, dubbed the #BigBlueHQ

“We started working on Pinguin about a year ago when Devon left Yik Yak after seeing the potential that they had with local conversation but being somewhat frustrated with the approach. He and Bryan had worked on businesses together before and reached out to Josh who they knew was a super talented Product Manager. As soon as Josh said he was in, Devon and Bryan moved from NY to LA and all moved under one roof.” Woodruff said.

“Josh’s “ah ha” moment came driving home from work in Santa Monica and seeing a bomb squad car drive by. Curious and concerned, he took to twitter and facebook to find out what was happening, it wasn’t until hours later that he was able to get an answer when he was already safe at home.” he added.

Early adopters will find that the UI is clean as can be and extremely easy to navigate. You’ll also see how the team behind Pinguin envisions the conversation and chat flowing. It’s also a breeze to switch topics. Overall Pinguin could definitely become the next Yik Yak for adults.

Join the conversation on Android or iOS here.