Hoplr, ‘your neighbourhood private social network’, is aiming to make an online community for every Flemish neighbourhood. With 60,000 registered households and investment from Matexi and Roularta under their belt, Hoplr is ready to take it to the next level.
Hoplr allows you to become part of a community based on where you live. Its main focus is on promoting interaction between neighbours. You can use it to exchange information, organise neighbourhood parties, borrow, lend or give things away, start discussions, put new ideas out there, etc.
Hoplr is often described as something akin to a local, neighbourhood version of Facebook. However, according to Jennick Scheerlinck, there are some significant differences. “Hoplr neighbourhoods are defined areas”, he stresses. “Your address is checked when you register and without the right code you will not be allowed access. Contextual content is also really important, as this is what ensures that there is unique content which can only be found on Hoplr.
When Hoplr was first launched in 2014, the main concern was connecting people with their surroundings. “These days our objectives are a little broader”, says Scheerlinck. “Our main aim is to close the gap between residents and local governments.”
Residents want to feel involved
Hoplr is clearly aiming to reach three types of customer: cities and councils (and their local services), utilities and local retailers. “Using a licensing model, they can make use of our dashboard or take advantage of the services we offer for communication, participation and data”, explains Scheerlinck. “The customer in question, for example Antwerp city council, cannot use Hoplr to obtain information about neighbourhoods, but what they can do is communicate with neighbourhoods and their residents. This is very useful for urban services, which can use Hoplr to report accidents, make announcements about cultural activities or launch surveys. Data, as long as it is collected in a way which fully conforms with privacy laws, may also be used to gain insight and thus create better policies. The result of all this is residents who feel more involved with their community.”
Meanwhile, Hoplr’s earnings model has been generating revenue since the beginning of 2017. “Over the past three years we have principally been investing in the neighbourhood platform and market validation. All the technology needed to be up to scratch, and that took some time”, says Scheerlinck. “But our patience and hard work have paid off: at the beginning of this year we started our sales process and the customers came pouring in. Today, our platform is used by around 60,000 families in over 500 neighbourhoods. The neighbourhood platform achieves a weekly retention of over 60%; this is our primary metric.”
The Future Looks Rosy
Over the past year the start-up has raised over 500,000 euros in investments from Matexi, Roularta and other sources and Scheerlinck’s team is working hard to bring Hoplrs to the rest of Europe. “There is certainly no lack of ambition”, laughs Scheerlinck. “Next year we plan to go to market in other countries, including the Netherlands and France. We aim to become a big European name in citizen communication and participation. Our collaboration with Roularta Mediatech Accelerator will certainly give a boost to our plans for the future, and we consider them our strategic partner for our national launch!”
Text: Magali De Reu