June 11th 2020
I’m a hedgehog in the fog.
Every good story starts at the beginning. I was five when the train jolted from standstill, slowly carrying my parents and me away from the crumbling USSR. Most of the people who I cared for in life stood outside, waving. In due time, I’ll get to see them all again — but I did not know that back then.
Cut to scene two — I am seventeen, soon to finish high-school and enroll in mandatory military-service. A plane headed to Canada leaves with my parents, my younger sister and myself on-board. Again — the unknown, the new. Another language, another city, another life.
A fire started burning inside, rejecting all outlets.
It took until April of this seemingly accursed year to finally find it an outlet it accepted, and the afterburners ignited of their own accord. CloseKnit was born.
CloseKnit is a trusted network of immediate neighbours, which encourages them to share items, help each other out, combine buying power, organize events, and generally increase local trust, sharing and resilience — all while not creating another system that monetizes and spies on its users.
Let’s break this down into sections, and visit them one by one:
- Where: Trusted network of immediate neighbours.
- What: Share items, mutual aid, combined buying power, local events, etc.
- Why: Increase local trust, sharing and resilience.
- How: Respect your users, stupid!
CloseKnit snaps the focus back to our local environment; it pioneers a concept we call the “Circle of Trust”, whereby each user can choose how large of a connection radius to draw around their house, which they’re comfortable to include as their “in-group”. This will typically vary from same street-address (as in the case of high-rises with hundreds of units), to around 150m in a suburban setting, to more in a rural setting.
Not so long ago, neighbours used to share nearly-everything amongst each other, do things together, shop for one another, help each other in times of need. In many parts of the world, this is still the case. Not so in the disjointed, disconnected neighbourhoods in many a large city, or even suburb.
CloseKnit aims to bring back these kind of communal functions, and introduce new ones. We will support many kinds of interactions via a native interface — that is, it will not be “just chat” in an endless feed, but each kind of interaction will have its own natural, logical, interface. This is another innovation we are bringing to the table.
We are planning to start with a few such interactions, and then expand the repertoire in following releases. These will include:
- Ask for, and offer help.
- Share items.
- Organize local events.
- Combine shopping carts in a single trip.
- Ask a question.
- Post an announcement.
- Introduce yourself to your neighbours.
These already predispose a certain positive kind of interactions, and minimize a certain kind of other, mostly negative kinds of rants and complaints.
Here is an artistic (and, somewhat comical) render of some of the things possible on the CloseKnit platform. Note how it starts with Mary as the only user in her neighbourhood.
We do not preach any such belief, or expect our users to follow it, however it is important to acknowledge our philosophical roots, and be upfront about them.
It is our belief that through CloseKnit, individuals and whole communities will find a narrative of meaning, belonging and resilience, which will positively impact their experience of the world, and in turn — positively impact the broader community, through more conscientious choices made by those individuals and communities.
They hastily give up large percentages of their shares to investors in successive rounds, trying hard to maximize growth from one investment round to the next. In the end, investors hold the majority of shares, and boy are they impatient to get their money back, with a 10x return! In such a model, there is no longer room to maneuver away from monetizing users’ data. The company that started with stars in their eyes just yesterday, has now become part of the problem.
Ask yourself — is the Friendly Neighbourhood Social-Network you like to use “Free”? If the answer is “yes”, congratulations — you are not their customer, you are their product.
At CloseKnit we looked at this, and said…
We developed a revenue model that rejects this scenario from the very outset, instead offering a very simple, transparent and robust alternative:
We believe that we offer so much value, and so many savings starting from the first borrowed cup of sugar, that we want to strike an honest deal with our users. We will charge a very small fee for using the platform, and in return treat our users as our clients, offering full integrity and transparency. Full stop, end of story.
That’s it, folks.
Victor of CloseKnit.