The day towards which the entire FAMILO team has been working for the last months has finally come. We’re so proud to introduce our newest baby to the world: Familonet Locator 2, here we go! But how did we actually come up with the ideas and improvements for this milestone? Let me share with you our top 3 company insights that led to FAMILO 2.
What happened so far
The FAMILO Locator has been online for two years now. So far, feedback and requests from our 900k global users have driven our development sprints. By fine-tuning features like Intelligent Places, Real-time Location Sharing, as well as Chat Messaging, we massively increased our KPIs like user activity, engagement, and retention. FAMILO truly has become a home screen app for our users, who have joined groups with their family members. Currently, an average daily user opens the FAMILO app 4 times/day for nearly 40 seconds per session. They perform 40 actions on FAMILO every week–this has increased from an average of 10. Ask yourself: which apps do you use that frequently?
#1: Users want to share their location with other groups too
More and more users were demanding to use FAMILO’s location sharing features with other groups besides their family circles. This was not possible previously because one could belong to only one group, which was one’s family for most users. We learned that many users want to create additional groups, for example of colleagues, gym mates, or travel buddies. Furthermore, not only families but also flatmates, couples, friends, study groups, and other small groups started using Familonet Locator to coordinate their daily lives and locations.
Our answer: Multiple groups
The most obvious new feature in FAMILO 2 is what we call “Groups.” From now on, every user can belong to more than one group. A user can create groups with their partner, colleagues, sports mates, fellow travellers, roomies, study groups, etc. Automated location-based communication makes sense for every small and close circle of people. Consider for yourself: The questions: “Where are you right now?” or “When will you be there?” appear in nearly every phone call or texting conversation. Economically speaking, we add inter-group network effects to the already existing inner-group network effects. Users can now experience an even greater benefit from FAMILO if more users in other groups use the app too. From a marketing perspective, this has the potential to trigger viral effects as well as organic growth even further.
#2: Users sometimes struggle with email addresses and passwords
We saw that some new users struggled a bit while setting up user accounts and adding family members. Until now, registration on the Familonet Locator happened via email address and password. One must use group members’ email addresses to invite them. We learned that especially kids or the elderly sometimes don’t have an email address or don’t know the addresses of their family members. We thought: okay, which identifier can we use instead to identify people’s user accounts? What does every smartphone user have for sure? A phone number, of course! What a gift for a mobile-only product as we do it.
Our answer: Phone number sign up & invitation
To make it really easy for users to sign up initially, we switched from email and password sign up to phone number registration. This takes only a few taps and you’re in. To then add members to your groups, you choose any contact from your address book and invite them via their phone number. Family and friends are already there regardless whether they already use FAMILO. This feature is similar to that of messaging apps like Whatsapp. The simple onboarding and adding of members makes it really easy and flexible to join and leave groups. Now groups can form for a single occasion, like one night out, in a second.
#3: Our server backend explored its limits
Due to the massive user growth we’ve faced, our server backend increasingly explored its limits over the last few months. Especially in times of very busy usage worldwide, we experienced a shortage of server capacities, which does not sync with our mission to build very precise, reliable technology for our users. Of course, we cannot accept any system difficulties at all and must do everything to ensure the full availability of our service at all times!
Our answer: A service-oriented server architecture
To be future-ready and able to handle our expectant millions of users, we completely re-engineered our server backend. By switching from a monolithic to a service-oriented server architecture, we’re preventing capacity overloads as well as server downtimes. We’re taking the entire Familonet Locator experience to the next level of high performance. We’re now able to scale our infrastructure horizontally by plugging in more servers as more users use the application.
Co-Founder & CPO