So this is my undeveloped idea for an app and website that I currently just unimaginatively named the Flatmate Platform. It is made of two halves: one for people when they’re currently sharing their living spaces with those wonderful special people known as housemates or flatmates; one for people when they’re looking for someone (else) to live with in the immediate or near future.
Everyone will initially sign up and make a login account that will include details such as any dietary requirements, allergies, musical instruments currently playing, severe dislikes and household talents (I am personally particularly good at washing dishes – so you know). You do not have to include your real name, you can use something anonymous and silly like in the early days of the internet as this will not be used for professional purposes but of course you can be sensible if you wish to.
You will be asked for your age and your weekly living budget limits (or if indeed you care about one) although this information will be kept completely private and not shared with anyone publicly or any third parties. You will be asked to provide links to other social networks like Facebook and Twitter and enter any other communication details like mobile number and email address and can then declare the privacy level you would like for this information.
Unlike other social networks you will not connect or befriend other people directly. Instead you will become involved with other people through groups and other factors which will be explained later on, and you will be encouraged to communicate with other people through other, existing social networks as you’ve registered them and declared your preferences for.
WITH YOUR CURRENT FLATMATES
You can create a ‘household’ profile, not necessarily giving full address but perhaps something more vague like city name, and enter a keyword for this. People can then request to join this household and if you actually are living with them then you can tell them the keyword and you can all become linked into it.
You can enter details like how long you have been living together or at this address and there will be an option to create profiles like this in hindsight.
When a member of a household you can then create checklists of things to be done around the house like cleaning or emptying the bins or cooking on the Monday night. Members can then assign these tasks to individuals in the group, including themselves, or they can leave them open.
By including their social networks or access to features like push notifications on the app, they will then get reminders about these tasks until they get done. Although they will be able to snooze them, they will be sent on regular intervals with increasing levels of ‘alarm’ as they are left for longer after they have been created or closer to deadlines (when the bins are collected for example) until they are declared as having been done.
People can complete and declare tasks as being done even if they are assigned to someone else. Regularly occurring things can be put in for weekly or monthly recurrences although these can be cancelled in advance if, for example, people are going on holiday.
As well as checklisting people can make plans like for parties, film nights or more regular things cooking meals. These will open up sub-checklists for tasks but will also allow people to request others to bring or buy items for the allocated time and date e.g. Captain America DVD, bread, vodka. These will be like checklists but with optional reminders and no option to say “done” but instead “yes I can”, “maybe” or “sorry I cannot” as a response to the requests. As with checklists these items lists do not have to be assigned to individuals anyone can answer to the requests.
Planning boxes will include the option to write and/or link to music suggestions such as a Spotify or Rdio playlist, Youtube video or just writing songs, albums and artists out. Additionally they will have the option of making a food and drink card to tag to it.
FOOD & DRINK CARD
By opening a food and drink card people can suggest meals either by just typing the title like “beans on toast”, typing up a whole recipe underneath or by posting a link to a recipe or takeaway. They can then add tags such as “fish”, “pasta”, “fast food” so that they can build up stats if they want to so as to see how much of these things they have proportionally as an individual or a flat.
Meals will be saved once they have been made once so next time that title is typed in it will suggest autofilling in the form with the previous entry. It can then also remind of the last time you had that meal so you know whether it was very recently or not.
All this info can then provide you with individual and flat/house-wide stats about:
- How many tasks are checklisted on average
- How many of the tasks checklisted are done, snoozed etc
- How long it takes to complete checklisted tasks
- How often types of food are eaten and when
LOOKING FOR FLATMATES
A massive benefit of all this information is what makes the other side of the platform, the ability to look for future flatmates. When searching for someone to live with people can:
– specify where and when and how much willing to pay
– people can specify gender and age range but the actual ages will not be displayed on individual profiles, only limit the results of the search, for privacy reasons
– view how much potential flatmates they interact with the website and app
– how many parties and other events they’ve been involved in
– look to see if potential flatmates common schedules perhaps? For example someone normally eating dinner late at night might not be preferable
– see if they’ve got or have found a flat they want to live in – posting link -and willingness to live anywhere else
– when they’re looking for a flat/house to share and why they’re looking for someone:
- Just moved to this location for : work, studying, family, friends, new start etc
- Looking to move out of my parents/ex-partner’s flat
- Current flatmates are going on a year abroad, moving away etc
- Don’t want to say
Additionally users can specify if they want to stay together – linking profiles in searches – and explaining why e.g. partners, friends, former flatmates.
People will post links to their communication network on their profiles such as friend me on FB with an explanatory message, tweet me on Twitter, email me, phone me and will be encouraged to communicate with them through those ways not on the website or app itself.
LONG TERM AIMS
THE INTERNET OF THINGS
Ultimately this kind of platform could become compatible with the idea of the interconnected “internet of things” as checklist tasks could be connected through the internet with the devices in your house or flat and people could request tasks and items from the devices directly e.g. “start defrosting chicken”.
Thousands of people in the UK alone live alone, which although some intentionally, many have not planned or wanted to end up in this situation. By improving the facilities for looking for a flatmate there is a possibility that this could be used to help reduce these numbers maybe?
If this develops to become compatible with the internet of things then it has the possibility of improving the accessibility of households as users can request interactions with devices through the platform which may be easier or cheaper than just adapting the physical interactions alone.
This could also be used by the upcoming generation of computer-literate elderly people in care homes or assisted flats as they would be able to request tasks from staff when they are not around.
This is NOT about finding the actual properties to live in – it is about the people who live in them with you.
It will not contain any direct messaging services – there are enough of these already. Instead users are encouraged to interact by the other social networks they have connected to their profiles.
BRIEF BUSINESS IDEAS
This is obviously collecting a lot of data about people and so the most obvious source of money would be by selling the information for marketing and advertisement purposes. However I do not know whether or not I would include things like banner or pay per click adverts on the site itself but instead I could encourage local businesses to come up as suggestions for food and drink cards or sources of items. I could this also by making it compatible with other existing sites like JustEat. I could potentially make money just business to business by promoting other sites such as JustEat or Spotify.
For those that are hesitant to use the platform because of the data collection or additional profiles on the internet when employers are looking at you there are several key approaches that could be done to support them.
Users don’t actually have to contain real names as long as you already agree as flatmates to have ridiculous names and know who you all are – you can always change things later when flatmate searching if wanted, so employers won’t necessarily find you through Google. It could be like the earlier days of the internet….
Also I could emphasise that whilst ‘personal’ information is acquired it is only en masse (seeing if people in an area generally like eating chips a lot for example) or if it is particularly relevant to you i.e. local businesses.
The main competitors in the field of tasks and to do list apps and websites are:
Within the area of flatmate searching, the main competition within the UK is from:
I could possibly make the profiles and statistics compatible with existing flatmate searching rather than competing against them? Maybe encouraging linking and communication through them? Linking profiles?
I have no idea whether or not I’ll actually get around to developing this idea any further into a real business plan as I already have a million other things I should be getting along with (and my degree) but I thought by getting the idea out there then maybe I’ll be motivated to work on it a little bit at some point in the future or in an amazing ideal (unrealistic) world, maybe someone else out there will work on it for me.