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Today our guest is George Kozhukhovsky, co-founder of Swap Map, a worthy competitor to Zenly and Foursquare — a social network where you can view your friends’ geolocation, search for upcoming events and create collections of your favorite places.
Interview with the guest

Share how you came up with the idea for the app. What was missing from modern aggregators?

Personally, when Foursquare closed I needed some kind of tool to share worthwhile locations with friends. For example, if I'm hanging out somewhere, I can quickly invite them to join me. So the idea is simple: I wanted to do something that would allow friends to get together more often.

What tools do you recommend for app promotion? Is it possible to bring an application to the top without extra marketing budgets?

In my opinion, at the start it’s better to bet on virality: implement every creative idea that comes to mind, study social network algorithms and shoot vertical videos until they start trending and convert into something tangible.

For Pre-Seed and Seed projects, it is important to systematically engage in marketing, but if possible, do this with minimal investment. With money, anyone can promote a project, but doing the same thing for free is exactly the essence of startups.

We know that Swap Map has many partnerships. What did collaboration with Black Star give you?

By the way, partnerships are an invaluable resource for startups in their early stages. I actively engage in negotiating collaborations or audience exchanges with individuals and businesses I come across in my personal and professional life. Surprisingly, I have found that people rarely turn down such opportunities.

I had a great experience collaborating with Black Star. The essence of the collaboration was to check in regularly for a month at your favorite location and receive Star status - the title of the most loyal visitor. The first user to achieve this status at one of the Black Star Burger restaurant locations in the Swap Map app will win a certificate for a year's supply of burgers.

However, when partnering with large brands, it is important to pay extra attention to details and remember that they cannot solve all your problems for you. Additionally, your startup must also provide value and and bring its audience.

Your application has its currency - PPLR. How to earn it and where can you spend it?

Indeed, the application incorporated interactive mechanics — among them are PPLR coins, tokens that were awarded to users for performing various actions within the app, such as creating content, checking in at different places, and inviting friends.

There were even plans to enable the exchange of PPLR for any other global currency through a decentralized exchange utilizing the Stellar platform. Unfortunately, due to the restrictions imposed by the AppStore rules, we were unable to proceed with this feature, resulting in the temporary removal of the token in the app.

What is the financial model of the application?

Like in many other media, the revenue comes from advertisers.

Do you plan to scale the app globally?

Absolutely! While my business partner and I may have differing opinions on this matter, it's the classic battle between the investor and the founder (laughs). However, we both agree on one fundamental aspect: it is crucial to first test the project locally, identifying a key feature that will captivate users and lead to exponential growth, before expanding on a larger scale. Venturing into international markets may yield higher returns, but it's important to consider the higher customer acquisition costs associated with them as well.

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