It’s the app that lies between dating apps like Tinder, and deals offered by sites like Groupon. With LupUp users sign in at one of the registered locations and are able to see a list of other LupUp users in the store. They can then send a friend request to whomever they are interested in. If the request is approved, they can connect and meet right there.
“We wanted to create something where we could actually make people connect face to face,” said founder Kasper Jakobsen. “We are the only app that actually connects customers with customers. There are few people out there that are trying to connect venues to their customers, but no one that is trying to create a network from the customer base.”
LupUp stands out from other networking sites in that it has a created a solid revenue stream that is not based on advertising. Instead the app will push coupons that are specific to the venue the user is in. They can then purchase the item through the app.
They have also created unique technology that does not require vendors to install any hardware in their store. Their patent pending technology utilizes the user’s geo-location instead of a low range Bluetooth enabled beacon. This means they can scale to all vendors in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in a single afternoon.
Yet, the startup has had a rocky start in the United Arab Emirates. Initially the team searched for investments in Dubai, but they found the investor ecosystem lacking.
“I think because it’s not a tech economy, they don’t have the same appetite for risk perhaps as you will find in Silicon Valley,” said Jakobsen. “So funding an early stage startup is challenging in a place like that.”
Instead they found investors in the United States and had their main launch in Chicago.
Initially Jakobsen and his team thought the ideal place to launch a networking consumer app would be at a bar, where people are open to meeting strangers, but might be too shy to talk to them face to face. However, bars had very small customer bases. They estimate that less than 100 people in their target audience, that may or may not have downloaded the app, visit bars. Instead they’ve launched in restaurant blocks, malls and popular beaches.
In Dubai the app has focused on hotels and malls, where the country sees the most foot traffic. Just last year Dubai Mall saw 80 million visitors, and Jakobsen hopes to tap into that market with LupUp.