Published: 29th May 2019
Dial M for Milo: This new community connect app is awesome. Here's why
Natarajan HK, co-founder of Milo, a community app that's got people connecting across residential campuses and institutions to find and pursue common hobbies, tells us their origin story
Meera has been living in a posh apartment in Bengaluru for a while now, but she hasn't had the chance to get chatty with her next-door neighbours. But a few days ago she installed Milo - The Community App and that has helped her make a few friends in her apartment and even people who have similar hobbies like her. Now, you might wonder how this app is any different from Facebook or WhatsApp. Milo stands out as it creates a more private community group and is efficient in connecting people quickly.
Natarajan H K, the co-founder, says, "The initial idea behind creating this app was to connect people around the world who have similar interests, likes and dislikes. But for now, we've narrowed it down to apartments and gated communities, tech parks, colleges and multinational companies. Anyone can make friends on social media platforms, but how many of us can immediately identify if these people are interested in certain hobbies, like football or cricket? Through Milo, a user can set up a group in their apartment, office or college to play football. They can even connect with strangers who might, later on, become friends."
All for community living
Natarajan states that their philosophy is to bring back the culture of community living. He explains, "With Milo, we tell people to interact, get comfortable and then meet. In the case of a social media platform like Facebook, people are often scared to share their personal details when they connect with others. There might not be an authentic identity. Whereas in Milo, since it is a closed community group, there is no such fear of a wrong or a fake identity. Here, people are already part of the community and Milo is a simplified platform to connect with one another."
So, how does a user find others with common interests? It's quite simple, really. When a person downloads the app, they are asked basic questions like the school they studied, their hometown, language, interests and hobbies. Through this database, the app checks to see if there are other users who might be from the same hometown or college, or if they love watching and playing a particular sport too and so on. The system is designed in such a way that it forms different groups to which you are added immediately, thus, turning strangers to friends.
On all phones: Milo can be downloaded from Google Playstore and iPhone Appstore
A success story
Milo has garnered positive responses from the users since their launch in 2018. Currently, the app has around 300 communities and 50,000 users. After adding the option of a self-serve portal, people have formed their own communities and around 300 private groups are currently functioning. "With several gated communities successfully using Milo, now, several tech parks in Karnataka are also taking it up. This is a relevant platform for HRs in private companies to connect employees of different departments. Even a few colleges in Delhi, Bengaluru and Rajasthan are using Milo. There may be 1,500 to 2,000 students in college, but you've probably met only 2 per cent of them. Milo will bring you close to all your college mates. These friendships can later turn into business relations." While Milo is free for users in gated communities, tech parks and colleges pay a nominal fee to use it. Nestaway, Sobha, Lodha, Runwal, Greens, MyHome located in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai are among the gated communities currently using Milo.
Team of ten
It is now time to meet the team behind this community platform. Natarajan currently has a team of ten members which includes co-founders Kumar Anchal, an alumnus of IIT Bombay, and Niranjan Sukumaran, an alumnus of NIT Suratkal. Over the years, Natarajan and Kumar have worked with several top companies like Microsoft, Yahoo and Infosys. "I met Kumar in 2006 and we had plans to start our own company and here we are today. Kumar looks after the design and themes for the app and Niranjan takes care of the technical aspects. Any options that we want to enable or disable, Niranjan is our go-to guy," concludes Natarajan. After that engaging interview, there was only one thing left for me to do - unlock my phone and click on Google's four-coloured Play Store app icon.
Adding on: Milo has over 25,000 users and 300 private communities
Five things you can do with Milo:
1. Discover and create highly meaningful relations, like connecting with school mates or people from the same hometown
2. Buying and selling is another option where people can exchange one commodity for another, for instance, if someone wants to exchange books or a table. People can sell second-hand TVs, movie tickets or match tickets on this group as well
3. Carpooling is an option where people can connect with others who need to travel to the same tech park or students who attend the same college
4. If you want to meet people when you are free, all you need to do is shake your phone to meet another member in the community who is free at that moment
5. There are users who have provided detailed information about their profession. Such profiles are listed on Milo. Through this, one can meet doctors, journalists, artists, painters, dog trainers, teachers etc