Like it or not, everything is going more social. And when done right, that often means more than offering a clumsy Facebook integration or sharing option. Many of the richest and most useful social communities are created around specific verticals, topics, or activities.
Social PaaS (platform as a service) startup WeLink is making it easier than ever before for developer to build proprietary connected communities within their iOS, Android and Appcelerator Titanium mobile apps. Today the company released its first “Social Community SDKs” to accompany its existing API, and shared some early success it’s had in the events category.
Through the company’s white label solution, any app can gain a captive social layer in minutes with only a few lines of code. (Many companies say this, in some variation, but in WeLink’s case, I’ve seen it.) The new SDK features social profiles, discovery and search, social connect, messaging, and photo sharing. Each implementation can be customized and can operate offline – a must in many WiFi-extortionary convention centers and hotels. The platform also offers event organizer analytics tool to interpret and parse user activity.
For attendees in particular, the addition of social features can dramatically increase event ROI. Users can more easily discover worthwhile people to connect with while at an event, identify those who they’ve crossed paths with at previous events, and also sort through the profiles of contacts following an event. Prior to WeLink, this often required collecting business cards and painstakingly sifting through LinkedIn profiles to request connections, if you could even find the right “Dan James.”
WeLink’s earliest success was through a partnership signed in May with Cyprus-based developer AppBaker, who makes all of the apps for the worldwide TEDx event series. Together, have already rolled out 40 new socially-powered TEDx apps to date, out of the 3,000 plus events in the series that occur each year. AppBaker integrated WeLink into its base app development package, meaning that each of its future clients, event or otherwise, will have WeLink integrated into their app.
Since partnering with AppBaker, WeLink was also recognized as Appcelerator’s top emerging ISV technology partners for 2012, and signed a partnership with Cvent app development subsidiary CrowdTorch. The first big release to come out of the latter partnership will be an app for the 2013 edition of Wizard World Comic Cons. WeLink isn’t limiting itself to the events vertical. The company has had significant interest from other verticals including, somewhat surprisingly, non-profits.
WeLink is a Q1 2012 graduate of Los Angeles startup accelerator StartEngine, and has bootstrapped its early growth beyond this nominal early backing. The company relocated to Palo Alto in August and currently has three full time employees, including co-founders Karthik Manimaran and Nathan Chandra, and three part-time contractors.
“It’s a no-brainer that all apps should be social, but they’re not,” says Chandra. “It takes an insane amount of time and money to build well designed social features for mobile…We make developing a beautiful social apps easier than ‘falling off a log.’”