Australians no longer have an excuse not to know their neighbours’ names.
Sadly, more than half (58 per cent) of Australians never connect with their neighbours beyond a chat over the fence, in a survey commisioned by Nabo, the social network that aims to change this.
That’s right, Nabo is a free social media platform that enables individuals and community organisations to instantly and directly connect online with others in their suburb. Founded by Adam Rigby, co-founder of JumpOnIt and former CEO of LivingSocial, Nabo may just turn neighbours into friends, just like in the good old days.
Make real connections in your suburb
“Nabo is not just another online community but a community online that corresponds to the suburb you live in,” Rigby stated. “It’s a safe environment because individuals connect with residents in their area only, via hyperlocal private websites. The benefits are enormous in terms of building better and healthier communities, reducing crime and connecting people.”
The platform doesn’t just connect neighbours to one another, it also functions as a rapid classifieds board, and even as an emergency alert system from the police or state council.
To join Nabo, individuals sign up under their street address and real name, and can explore the site for 30 days during which time Nabo verifies their address. Community groups can use Nabo to connect people with events and local services and to share news, and any resident can create their own community group to find like-minded people who live close by.
Small start, big plans
Nabo, which was modeled on the highly successful Nextdoor, launched on December 1, having secured $2.25 million in funding by investors, including Reinventure Group and Seven West Media.
Over the past two months, an initial roll-out of Nabo pilot schemes in 19 suburbs across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Newcastle has seen neighbours connect and help one another on a range of issues including a fruit and vegetable co-op, garage sales, and a local street clean up.
The network will now extend to all communities across Australia, with the aim of reaching a million users by the end of 2015 as well as have 60 councils and around 6000 local community groups. “We are working with local councils and community groups to enable them to use the platform to communicate with their communities. We currently have councils in Brisbane and Sydney piloting the program before we launch nationally,” said Rigby.
Investors are confident
Nabo’s investors are confident, and it’s no wonder, considering that its founder is not a newbie entrepreneur. Rigby co-founded Australian group-buying website JumpOnIt, which was subsequently sold to LivingSocial in 2011, after which he was appointed CEO of LivingSocial Australia and New Zealand. He then went on the create successful start-ups in the online sector, including co-founding digital agency X/M Harrow, later acquired by WPP company George Patterson Bates and co-founding Smarter Retail Solutions, a venture capital-funded online marketing solutions company.
Simon Cant, Co-Founder of Reinventure Group, says Nabo is a great addition to the portfolio. “Nabo fits perfectly with our investment strategy – we’ve invested right from startup in a proven model led by a proven entrepreneur that’s a great fit with Westpac’s focus on supporting local communities. We are confident that the partnership between Nabo and Westpac will help build a significant new part of the digital landscape in Australia,” he said.
When it comes to social media alienating us from our real neighbours, Nabo is turning it on its head. According to the study it commissioned, the more frequent our social media use, the more difficult it is to approach our neighbours, while 65% of people would like to know more of their neighbours.
Now, using social media to connect the negihbourhod seems like the most obvious solution, doesn’t it?