At the heart of Go2s’ philosophy is a belief in the power of community. We know on a gut level (and the research confirms it) that we feel better as individuals when we feel connected to people, when we have a support network to share the good and the bad, and when we provide that same support for others. It’s wonderful—but not always practical—to have this face-to-face. Go2s has made it our mission to cultivate this spirit in the online social environment.
This mission is central to why we chose Brunswick, MD (pop. 6,000) on the banks of the Potomac River as our launch city and home town. Go2s is building a social network based on trust, respect, and kindness. We believe in honoring our users’ time and privacy. We believe that the current social networking options are based on operating models that actively work against these goals. When we thought about where we wanted to launch our different kind of social network, we didn’t look towards Silicon Valley. A fresh start demands a fresh approach.
Brunswick is the embodiment of Go2s’ ideals: a rooted community with active civic organizations and churches, passionate local businesses, open and approachable city government, and an independent spirit (with bonus proximity to major metropolitan areas—close, but not too close).
Go2s is the name we chose for our social networking app, but our company name is iyotee, inc. Iyotee, inc. was founded in 2015 by Mehdi Tehranchi and Dr. Rachid Sijelmassi. Mehdi is a graduate of the University of Maryland & George Washington University with degrees in Electrical Engineering. Rachid has PhD in Computer Science and lives in Montgomery County, Maryland. Mehdi and Rachid worked together on a previous start-up called Notable Solutions which was based in Rockville, MD. Notable Solutions created the AutoStore product which was purchased by Nuance Communications [NASDAQ: NUAN, headquarters in Burlington, MA] in July 2014. Now they are turning their personal funds (with the support of some reputable venture capital investment firms) and technical know-how towards giving the world an alternative to current online communication tools.
Notable Solutions is also how Mehdi and Rachid learned about Brunswick. One of their colleagues was a resident. His passionate recommendation of the community won the day when options were considered for the best place to launch this new tech venture.
Like all tech start-ups, our first office is wherever our laptops are. Rachid oversees the development of Go2s’ server development in Maryland. The end-user client interface design and development are with overseas teams in Vietnam and Colombia. Our first & second Brunswick-resident employees were hired in 2017. We invite you to check out our smiling faces in the About Us section of our website: http://www.go2s.com/about-us/!
As we grow so does our need to assemble the bricks-and-mortar location where we can consolidate our disparate elements. We are currently in talks to establish our first Brunswick headquarters as a founding-level tenet at Own It Co-Working Space.
The Go2s application runs on a database support system called Firebase. Firebase is owned by Google, Inc, so Go2s’ data for its US-based users is 100% housed on the Google cloud here in the United States. (For more information about Firebase security, its ISO and SOC compliance, and various other information visit https://firebase.google.com/support/privacy/.) For those of you who don’t spend your days coding, a database is the place where Go2s processes the information that people share on the app—things like a user’s name & account settings, posts, new resource recommendations, and help requests.
Go2s’ database construction sets us apart. Our commitment to privacy, security, and trust starts here. First, we use SSL to encrypt the data as it flows back and forth between users and the database. Second, we collect the minimum of information we need about a user to confirm identity. We do not ask for gender, occupation, marital status, alma mater, and so on. Nor do we employ data collection tools to spy on what our users are talking about when they send messages, organize groups, recommend businesses, like posts, or ask for help.
As has become more apparent over the past few years, this type of demographic and psychographic information is valuable. It forms the basis of most social networks’ business models. They store this information and use it to target advertising or to sell outright to the highest bidder.
When user data is collected in this way, it invites bad actors to manipulate these networks to target audiences under false pretenses. It is a target for theft. This database model is at the root of most of the problems plaguing social networks that we hear about on the news: fake accounts, disinformation, and hacks. The first and biggest step Go2s takes in protecting its users’ privacy and security is the simplest one: we don’t collect the data. If it isn’t there, it isn’t there to be misappropriated or misused.
We also choose not to collect user data because we don’t sell it or allow random companies to dictate advertisement placement on our network. This bring us to another of Go2s’ core tenets: our belief that the individual user should be in control of their own data and have power over the content they see. Go2s has no incentive to collect user data because we don’t control who advertises to you, you do (more on this in a moment). We do have performance monitoring data like response time metrics and database size forecasting, but this data is used internally to monitor the application’s health and is not a product available for sale to strangers.
It follows that one of the most-asked questions Go2s gets is, if you don’t make your money collecting data and monetizing it, how do you make your money? The short answer is, we make our money by helping businesses reach their advocates. As individuals, we are asked all the time by family, friends, and neighbors for recommendations for a good restaurant/plumber/contractor and so on. Go2s incorporates this process into our network.
All our users are encouraged to rate and review the businesses and professional services they encounter. These are call Resources. All recommendations are kept private to the audience selected by the user (usually her direct Go2s), which means no public search engine will ever find these recommendations. This ensures that a Go2s recommendation reflects an honest relationship, disincentivizes gaming the system with reviews-for-hire, encourages users to feel comfortable sharing their true feedback (positive or negative) without fear of reprisal, and avoids rewarding smear campaigns.
With Go2s, if (and only if) a business has been recommended, that business can buy access to tools we’ve created to promote their products and services to their recommenders.* This is how Go2s makes its money. Businesses owners cannot read individual recommendations, but they get access to Go2s’ business dashboard to learn their overall star rating, or lack thereof, and to help them improve low ratings and reward enthusiastic loyal customers. We think our model is a totally unique way to help all businesses (not just the deep pockets that can afford the most screen time) do better in and around their marketplaces without compromising user privacy.
Go2s believes that word-of-mouth is the key to success for the small and independent businesses that are the backbones of strong communities and we created our dashboard tools to support this. One of these tools is what Go2s calls “shout-outs.” Shout-outs are promotions that get sent to the individuals (and only those individuals) who have recommended the business. These users can choose to circulate “shout-outs” within their network and use them to help their favorite business. The fancy term for this is Advocacy Marketing.
An example of a shout-out might be a free coffee from a local café to thank you for your patronage. A positively-reviewed business might offer a discount you can share with your friends and family. You are free to circulate this shout-out with all your personal Go2s or you can keep it entirely to yourself. Sharing a shout-out does not give the business any access to anyone else on your network.
The difference in this approach is simple, but significant. You will only ever see advertisements from business you know personally. The business benefits because its offer is being passed on by a trusted source. Reach may be smaller, but the conversation rate stands to be much higher.
*It’s important to note that Go2s is in process of implementing its business dashboard for introduction in early 2019. For now, we are focused on gaining users and making sure they get the private social network that they need to support their busy lives.
Go2s wanted to share this bit of biography because we believe that trust, kindness, and respect start with transparency. We want you to know exactly who we are, what we believe, why we’ve made the decisions we have, where we can be found, and how we conduct our business so that you can make an informed choice for your digital communication. If we missed something, we invite you to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’ve already decided to join the Go2s network, add “Hello Go2s” as one of your Go2s and use the messaging feature to chat. We welcome the chance to answer questions, explain our vision, and work together to build a social network that supports the strong communities we deserve, both on- and off-line.