“Where the hell are you?!” It’s a question you’ve probably asked a friend over the phone on more than one occasion. But what if you never even had to ask? What if you could willingly share your exact location with the person on the other end of the line without having to describe your surroundings? That was the idea behind Where The Hell Are You, an app developed by Austrian startup Three Bee Peas.
We last caught up with the founders, Peter Riegler, Bernd Kampl, and Stefan Stumpfl, back in October, and a lot has happened since then. But let’s rewind to the beginning.
The team met during their time at university studying telematics, a mix of electrical engineering and software development. Attending Droidcon London 2013, an Android developer conference, they joined a hackathon sponsored in part by Rebtel, and got building. Kampl came up with the idea of a location-enhanced calling app, which they originally called LoCallizer. Such apps were complicated to build back then, however. “You had Google Latitude at the time, but they merged it into Google+,” said Stumpfl. “There really wasn’t much out there like it.”
So the team quickly built their own backend that took the location and sent it to the other user. They turned to Sinch (then the Rebtel SDK) for VoIP calling functionality, and to Google Maps for display. “What we basically did at this short hackathon was build a quick and dirty prototype on Android that worked sometimes … and sometimes not,” said Riegler. “Over those 24 hours, the three of us slept a total of 1.5 hours and drank a total to 24 Red Bulls,” added Stumpfl.
The app took the backseat for the next nine months as the team members buckled down to finish their studies. But soon after, they began encountering more and more situations in which the app would be helpful, and so they decided to move forward with development by improving the UI and stabilizing the overall app.
While the team never thought of building calling functionality on their own, they did look at other SDKs. “In the end, we decided to stick with Sinch’s easy-to-use solution,” said Riegler.
Flash forward to just a few weeks ago. The app was featured on Google Play and Apple App Stores, driving a major increase in the number of new users and downloads. “I’d say one of the core things we’ve learned is that you shouldn’t only concentrate on the English market because the Middle East, and even the Asian markets have taken a great liking to our app,” added Kampl. Today, Pakistan represents the largest user base.
And what do the users think of the app? The team is thrilled to report that the majority of reviewers give the app five stars. (Most of the one-star reviews are from users who had trouble confirming their country code during registration and thus were unable to open the app). Crashlytics has revealed that 97.8% of users are crash free.
A main challenge for the (now 6 members strong) team is reaching critical mass. Because users can only call people from their contact list who also use the app, most users are not able to make calls. To overcome this issue, the app includes a demo call and a way to invite other users.
Where The Hell Are You plans to seek funding in the near future to support marketing and development of new features, including wearable integration, location pins, number verification, and, the fan favorite, instant messaging. “Our to-do list is longer than the time on our hands,” added Stumpfl.
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