[SINGAPORE] Singaporean entrepreneur Daniel Chia has created a first-of-its-kind social networking app which he believes could fill a need now unmet by Facebook and Twitter.
Since its launch in March, BlastOut has secured $200,000 in angel funding and is valued at $2 million in venture capital terms, he told The Business Times.
His baby, a geo-located and mobile-only platform, lets users create their own private temporary social networks around an event, where they can connect and communicate anonymously with people nearby, or swap contacts to get to know each other better.
Mr Chia said: "There will be no stalking by irrelevant people, as people who aren't at the event won't be able to see your pictures or content. All content will also disappear after seven days, so users can feel more relaxed about their social profiles."
BlastOut wants to put the "social" back into social networking, and encourage people to live in the moment, added the Harvard University alumnus who was a schoolmate of Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin.
Mr Chia said: "I was pursuing a Masters in Statistics at Harvard, where I witnessed the birth of Facebook. It was really fun then because it belonged solely to Harvard students; you could check the classes they were attending, and 'poke' them in real life, just as you would poke them on the network."
But as Facebook expanded, this fun factor became "harder to replicate" as one's parents, colleagues and bosses would join the network, forcing one to clean up the content that made it fun in the first place, he lamented.
BlastOut thus seeks to remove the "social pressure of keeping appearances" and keeps things casual and fun for users as they share content with people nearby. It does that by ensuring that all content disappears from the network after it is no longer deemed relevant.
Businesses can also leverage BlastOut's geolocation function to reach out to customers who are nearby, by providing them with spontaneous content and connecting all who love their brand.
Mr Chia said BlastOut attracted some 1,200 local users pre-launch, and is looking to make a foray into London and the US soon.
Facebook, launched in 2004, has more than a billion users; its first-quarter revenue was US$2.5 billion and its profit, US$1.07 billion.
Meanwhile, startup activity in Singapore continues apace. Serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist (VC) Ong Peng Tsin last week launched Monk's Hill Ventures with a $100 million starting fund, along with his peers Kuo-Yi Lim and Stefan Jung.
It will target South-east Asian high-growth tech companies seeking early-stage, Series A or Series B funding, as well as startups in Silicon Valley and elsewhere looking to expand in Asia.
Mr Ong said: "There are two big gaps in the market. One is the much talked-about Series A funding gap, and the other - a more significant one - is the lack of seasoned entrepreneurs with deep operating experience as investors, people who can roll up their sleeves and really help entrepreneurs. This is what separates the best VCs from the rest."
In April, Monk's Hill Ventures was among six VC firms picked to receive $10 million in early-stage venture funds from the National Research Foundation.