Lab Notes

Introducing Kinly: Your Kin. Connected.

GoKart Labs is proud to announce Kinly, our social app to help mobile families stay connected. Let’s talk about why we made it.

For starters, I hate Facebook. There, I said it. It’s on the record.

This coming from a guy who once had “the most amazing Facebook strategy” for every business problem.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time for Facebook, but for me (and increasing amounts of others) that time is never.

My epiphany happened in line at a grocery store.  I had just wasted three minutes reading updates from my “friends.” Not that I don’t care about my “friends” but I had over 500 — and Facebook was deciding what I cared about (showing me some posts and not others).

I couldn’t stop thinking, ‘This is my life, right?!’

How the hell did I have 500 “friends” and why should they care what new photo of my dogs I wanted to share (I share a lot of them).

Matt Johnson

It dawned on me, the tools and technology of a “social network” are incredible. Why not build something purposeful for the people that mattered most in my life: my family.

My wife loves my dog photos, my mom still cares about what I’m doing at work, my dad loves to see what I’m thinking (and challenge it). It was clear we needed to invent something to share things like this, but privately; so the idea for Kinly was born.

Fast forward a few months to Kinly, the app we recently put in the App Store. The GoKart Labs team believed in the idea so much, they helped me get really clean about a viable first launch.

We did the work internally, launching and testing iterations as a “Family.”  The process was amazing, tiring, stressful, and so rewarding.
We talk a lot about the idea of MVP (Minimum Viable Product), and it being OK to release a prototype you know can be improved. We have so many ideas for Kinly to be so much more, to do so much more (it will). But, we’re really proud of what we’ve built, and more importantly — why we built it.

At its essence, Kinly is a means to connect with those that matter most in your life — your Kin.  I’m so excited to share ten dog photos a day with my wife, to check-in at Starbucks and have my mom razz me about not going to Caribou, and to post thoughts about the latest thing I read without worrying about who sees it (hoping my dad does — and hoping he challenges me).

I hope you give Kinly a shot as a way to focus your screen time on those that matter.  Download the app, start a Kinship, and invite your Kin.  Share things privately, stay connected with each other, have fun, and tell me what you think.

A self defined “Creative Realist”, Matt Johnson sees the future of digital like few others. He’s a creative soul with a mind for numbers and an eye for design. He turns  ideas into new products and sustainable businesses. Matt writes and shares articles across a wide range of digital topics.

Matthew is a walking dichotomy: a strategic designer, a metric-driven UA guy, a believer in traditional AND emerging media. He’s an economist and a songwriter, a creative soul who loves numbers, a lover of dogs, a fighter for the arts, and a darn fine cook to boot.

  1. What! Not available for Android??? You’re excluding a HUGE chunk of the market. I have a large family – I’ve been looking for something like this. But we’re all on android. Disappointment…

    1. Thanks for the comment. It was a really hard choice to focus on iPhone first, but we’re doing so to learn and learn quickly on one platform. We’re following a rather traditional path of building on one platform, learning what people like/dislike from our users, and applying that learning to future platforms if/when the app expands. Frustrating for me not to have both out of the gate too, hoping we’ll get there soon.

      1. Encouraging to hear that you do plan on coming out with an Android version at some point. Our family has been talking about doing something like this. We’ve tried one of those family websites, but they’re too cumbersome. An app is just what we need. Please make some sort of an announcement such as this one when it becomes available! Thanks for the reply.

    1. Great question. Our current plan is to have an Android version, at some point. We chose to build iphone first, because of market adoption — both phone and ipod touch. We want to take the learnings of one platform and apply them to both when we upgrade. Android is something we can’t (and don’t want to) ignore.

  2. At first I was really excited to download and try this new app since it sounds really impressive and I’ve been feeling the “Facebook Burnout” quite a bit lately. Then I realized that it’s not available for Android (yet), which is a huge buzz kill, especially since most people I know don’t even consider an iPhone as their first option when shopping for a new phone these days.

    I think it’s a great concept, just a little bitter about the fact that I’ll have to wait to try it out and the fact that I might forget about it by the time an Android version is released.

    Keep up the awesome work!

    1. Mike,

      Sorry about no Android version. I wish we had it too – but we’re hoping to work through any bugs/issues with this first version on iPhone/iPod first. As we get more and more feedback, we’ll look to resolve and at the potential of an Android version. Thanks for the note!

      MJ

  3. Just downloaded and I love the look of everything. Looking forward to trying it out. Just looking at inviting folks… Is there a way to keep separate my side of the family and my wife’s side of the family? I don’t know that they all would like to see each others updates but I would like to include both sides? Make sense??? Feel free to email if you would like to discuss more…

    1. Tony – Great question!

      Right now, we only support one “Kinship.” Multiple small groups is absolutely on the product roadmap and something we all want. Instead of waiting to get that done, we pushed it in the wild — largely hoping for feedback/validation about these types of ideas (just like this comment). We’ll keep you posted, and thanks for the feedback!

  4. Yesterday Symantec revealed that Facebook was “harvesting” personal data from devices that use Android. Facebook took advantage of Androids lack of security and encryption to steal user data including phone numbers, contacts, and virtually any personal info it wanted and fed it into it’s own servers. There’s good reason folks avoid Facebook and Android. Mr. Johnson, perhaps you could comment. This app is a great idea. Thanks.

    1. Bill, great question. We are planning for Android – certainly. As for Facebook’s security/data policy, I can’t speak for them — but for us, Kinly is private, purposefully. We don’t plan to steal, harvest, sell, any of our users data — for this very reason. We do want to know what our users do, and watch aggregate data to see what people perceive is important based on their use of the app — but only to help us make a better product and know what features to improve, add, delete, etc.

  5. Want Kinly to be a massive hit – if you can make it viable for our family, we will promise to sell it to every possible person we know. Our family: 3 Adults: (1) Very busy academic Mum (i-phone/ipad), (2) Absent- minded,grumpy professor/lawyer, Dad (early Spectrum ZX 9 user and now hates apple, so windows 8 tablet & android phone) and Ex-Uni mate/psuedo-uncle who runs major national charity and school choir and orchestra in spare time (it-illiterate with nokia smart phone he is learning to use). All live up north, and if not on the allotment or in kitchen, growing and cooking fantastic food, all will be travelling the country and the world at all hours of day and night with their jobs, as health care expert or human rights lawyer, or charity lead or as political activists. Means meetings with government departments in non-wifi, non-mobile signal buildings and teaching classes/ speaking at conferences/ being in court with phone on silent and then forgotten for days.
    4 Kids: head girl at Uni in London, singing in concerts or on the road doing backing work with phone off – or at a festival somewhere like Croatia where it cannot be heard. Best boy at Uni in at Birmingham, similarly playing cello in concerts, or trombone in jazz band on the road with phone off – or at a festival in somewhere like Ljubljana where it cannot be heard. Twin girls, (a) and (b) age 16, at different colleges. (a) relationship with phone is a study in perpetual motion, (b) relationship with phone is one of constantly being missing (not lost – just missing).
    Organise us so that we can actually arrange to all br in the same place at the same time for some good food, music and laughter – please. At the moment it takes us months to arrange anything.

  6. Glad to hear I’m not the only one missing an Android version. That’s a huge market you’ve left out. I’d be happy to beta for you when you get to that point!

  7. I love the concept, two things I hope you are going to work on that would make me tell all my friend to download it: 1-you should be able to have more the one kinly circle. I would like a kinly for my family and my husbands family.
    2- the way it’s set up now, you create a kinly when you download it. There is no option to join a kinly that’s already created. So either you have to wait for an invitation or be the first to sign up.
    I would gladly pay for this app if those two things were diferent.