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Brief Published: 14 Jun 2019

Collision 2019: Tech for Human Connection


A crop of start-ups at the Collision tech conference in Toronto last month focused on building community and connection, responding to the rise of Gen Lonely, and the backlash against established social platforms. Here, we look at two that stood out from the crowd.

  • Creating Renter Communities: Targeting urban isolation and the mass of millennial renters is Bungalow – North America’s fastest-growing co-living company, according to co-founder Andrew Collins. Rather than focusing on short-term rentals, Collins said Bungalow is “building rich community within households and across households”.
    The start-up pairs users with roommates and also hosts events to bring local Bungalow residents together. An app that helps members report maintenance issues includes a social component, encouraging users to connect with one another.
    Two years since launch, Bungalow has expanded to 10 American cities, leveraging existing inventory rather than building new housing. It signs multi-year leases with homeowners, furnishing and maintaining the properties, and rents rooms individually.
  • Coupling Kindness with Commerce: Austin-based Koya, which launched last month, encourages users to create meaningful points of connection with friends and family, said co-founder Courtney Werner.
    The app lets users send messages and surprise gifts that are geo-located to spots a recipient frequents or is likely to visit. For instance, upon arriving at their hotel, a traveller might receive a smartphone notification that a friend has bought them a drink at the bar; users are charged through PayPal when gifts are redeemed. Koya is currently seeking brand partnerships.
    According to Phoebe Scriven, a venture capital investor with London firm Rooks Nest, this type of positive, interpersonal activity is something we’ll see more commonly as platforms look to help users forge and maintain deeper relationships. See also Next-Gen Online Communities in our Spring 2019 Pop Culture Round-Up.

Find our full report on Collision 2019 here.