Get to know… aka-aki

Day by day we’re walking around town without really looking at the people around us. But wouldn’t it be interesting to know who’s that guy next to you in the tram? Or the girl that is standing next to the traffic light? The free mobile app aka-aki does make this possible!

We spoke to founder Roman Hänsler for our series “Get to know…” about the idea of aka-aki, the funny name and the advantages of the app.

What exactly is aka-aki?
aka-aki is a social networking tool for mobile phones. On your display it tells you, what people are near you. You can see shared interests and friends, and you can contact people you think interesting directly via aka-aki. At the moment the app is for free, and there is a beta version for android phones as well. You can use aka-aki with your browser as well.

When did you have the idea to create this app?
We had the idea when looking for a topic for our diploma thesis. We wanted to bring back the idea of the world wide web back to the streets. We wanted to create a tool which makes it possible to get to know more about the people we’re surrounded by every day.

How did you come up with the rather unusual name?
To be honest: We just invented it. After having spend hours brainstorming were we pushed around words and syllabels like crazy, we just came up with it. And the .com domain was still available.

What kind of feedback have you had so far?
We’re quite happy. At the moment we have around 700.000 users, most of them from Germany or France. Since last year we have advertising revenues as well.

How many users does aka-aki have?
As I said, in March 2011 we celebrated the 700.000 user. We made the breakthrough with our iPhone-App. Soon we will release a normal app for android phones as well and are sure that this will give a push again.

What is so special about aka-aki? Why should you download it?
Well, aka-aki simply makes it more interesting to be out daily. All those anonymous people around you become movie lovers, fans of my favourite band or people that grew up in the same city thanks to aka-aki. You can get to know interesting people at every corner, if you want so.

What is different in comparison to other apps?
aka-aki is all about looking for people you don’t know yet. Other apps focus on sharing stuff with friends you already have, telling them where you are ec. For example, you can’t “check in” at places with aka-aki. You just see all users around you, with a definition of the distance: here, near you, walking distance, in your city, in your region.

How is the project financed?
Our company is financed by venture capital. Our main investors are Creathor Ventures from Bad Homburg and Innovacom from Paris.

What are your future plans for aka-aki?
We care for further platforms, like android. There will be new features as well, like interesting events near you can be recommended.

What kind of artwork can we find in your office?
Besides aka-aki we have a local social game, called LiftLoft. This game was produced with an illustrator. He built the complete world of LiftLoft with paper, to create a unique look for the graphic. All these little paper artworks are now arranged like a little exhibition in our office.

Thank you!