Courtesy of ZooWho Inc.
Social media has created an era of constant connection — we can always see who’s been up to what, or share our thoughts, beliefs and memes with hundreds of people. You can find those acquaintances you haven’t spoken with in 20 years as easily as the friends you saw two minutes ago. Without these digital assets, we wouldn’t be able reach out with that same instantaneous gratification. Still, with so many platforms to communicate across, we somehow end up losing contact with those who matter most in this digital wave of confusion.
In September, the app ZooWho released with the goal of challenging this chaos by centralizing the contact lines in one location. From the moment you meet someone on the street, ZooWho begins building a portfolio so you don’t deal with forgetting names, a relative’s birthday or a business partner’s aspirations.
From a Need to An App
Sean Bair, CEO and founder of ZooWho Inc., realized in May 2018 that he wanted to be a better friend, partner and business associate. Like the rest of us, he’d write generic birthday wishes on a friend’s Facebook wall after being reminded with a notification, or meet someone and then immediately forget what the conversation entailed. Digital linking and in-person meetings seemed superficial and impersonal. “Every app I’ve developed was to overcome a personal need or shortcoming I had,” Bair said. “I am not great at meeting people and remembering what we talked about, but I want to!”
After designing and selling a big app that performed predictive analysis and defense, Bair was onto his next tech venture to cure what he believed people needed. He wanted to help strengthen connections and relationships for himself and others. Once Bair got the ball rolling by figuring out details, legalities and software, he left Arizona for the Silicon Slopes of Utah, with its rich technological opportunities, talent pool and closeness to family. Almost everyone employed at ZooWho Inc. are students at the University of Utah or Brigham Young University.
The ZooWho app is a place where an individual can find all of the information on those they want to connect with, without stretching that information between multiple apps. “[These] concepts aren’t necessarily new because companies use CRM [Customer Relationship Management] in getting to know a customer,” Bair said. The ZooWho app can also remind users of important dates and add notes to help users remember important information. The name ZooWho comes from one of Bair’s favorite phrases, “Who’s who in the zoo?” meaning, “knowing your network [and] how people are related and relatable.” Plus, Bair felt the name captured the chaos of our modern social lives. “With so much tech and social media, I feel like I’m living in a zoo sometimes,” he said.
How the App Works
Since the app has just been released, a tutorial and helpful videos are still in works, though ZooWho is simple enough in layout and easy to navigate. The user downloads the app from either the Apple Store or Google Play Store, imports contacts — which become Zoobees — then sets up each Zoobee’s page. These pages may then be linked to the contacts’ social media platforms. While only recent photos from the different social media accounts are imported onto a Zoobee’s page, the user will also be able to input notes about them, including goals, wants, needs and different “factoids,” like children’s names, religious affiliations or food preferences.
ZooWho is also a one-stop reminder shop. If it takes you eight days to pick out, sign and send a card in time for someone’s birthday, the app can be set up to send daily reminders to ensure you don’t miss the big day.
ZooWho encourages users to stay accountable and keep in touch with their acquaintances as often as they’d prefer. Below a Zoobee’s name are buttons to call, send a message or pull up an address for a visit. It also keeps info on when you were last in touch. A heart meter informs users of how well they’re doing compared to their chosen contact frequency.
First Impressions 4.5/5
At first the app came off like a pointlessly-glorified calendar and notebook, in which you have to manually input everything. Though ZooWho can store information, you still have to go to your contacts’ different social media platforms to see the latest happenings and contact them. Some people would rather talk over Instagram rather than Facebook, whereas others will communicate on multiple platforms. As annoying as ping-ponging between social media apps can be, at this point it’s unavoidable. ZooWho is still appealing because it keeps that important information in one place.
I often find myself scrolling through my notes app, skipping over gift ideas or a reminder to check out an anime someone mentioned. I sometimes miss someone’s birthday, just to send them a quick, bland “happy belated” message on their Facebook wall. Having a place to keep all of that information and be reminded of important dates and events — with a bit of additional work on my end — seems worth it. The ZooWho app has potential to become what Bair has set out to create.
More Features to Come
“I see [ZooWho] being the go-to app for organizing one’s social circle — family, friends and business associates,” Bair said. “With other apps, the user decides what to share with the world, which tends to be less and less given the issues with security and safety. In ZooWho, you decide what is important to keep on a person.” Bair has worked for 23 years in public safety and defense. He understands privacy is a big deal, but he also knows that his app is more user-friendly if imported information can be easily transferred. The goal until now has been to get the app published and working quickly, and now Bair has other plans in the works.
ZooWho may receive a Natural Language Processor that acts like a personal assistant at your side, such as Amazon’s Alexa. The Natural Language Processor would be to pick out certain words when set to an engaged mode during a social setting, so the app will take notes on names, dates, upcoming events and specific factoids. Bair also hopes to keep the app cost-and-ad-free by offering affiliate partner discounts through the gift option on a Zoo’s page.
For those who don’t want to have an awkward meetup with someone you hardly remember, ZooWho will eventually feature a proximity alert. You’ll be informed of your Zoobees nearby — if they have the option enabled — and can prepare with certain factoids and information from recent conversations to jog your memory.
Learn more about ZooWho at zoowho.com