The Inspiration

COVID-19 has severely affected the livelihoods of the people around the globe. Millions have been affected and thousands of new cases are emerging every year. However, it's proven that until we get a vaccine, the single most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is social-distancing. BUT, not many people are practicing social-distancing.

Humans are social animals. It’s a basic human instinct to stay close to other people. Forced Social-distancing can be mentally taxing. I’m a co-founder at Blockchain gaming company. I (Arbob) have a lot of experience in implementing game mechanics inside consumer apps. So, I thought why not apply the same gamification techniques I implement in blockchain, into a consumer app to incentivize people to engage in social distancing and help stop the spread of COVID-19. So, I started to scout for members in hackathon channels and got an amazing team to build this idea.

What it does

SoloCoin is a mobile app that rewards users to engage in social-distancing. It's basically a point tracking app that rewards users based on their proximity/location to their home. (using the tech of GPS, Geofencing, and Accelerometer - to track whether the phone is put on idle or not - awards will be rewarded only when the user is using the phone).

If their smartphone is present in a certain radius (~50m) to their home address, then the app will reward them with virtual coins, that they can later redeem for Amazon, Swiggy, medicine, etc. coupons (mostly to help them stay at home). They can also compete with nearby players for achievements and badges which they can later share it among their friends.

How we built it

When Arbob has the idea, he started building it on Python's Beeware toolkit which ports python code to a native mobile app. Then, he started to scout for members across hackathons and since the idea was innovative and exciting, many amazing people joined him. So, then the team decided to make it on native android and iOS directly for better usability and support. We have a group of 20+ open-source collaborators from around the world including startup founders & CXOs, guys from IITs, BITS, Stanford, Microsoft, Uber, Github, Neuro-Researchers and more among our community, with expertise in Frontend (android-studio), Backend (rails+postgresql) mobile development, Marketing, Product and Design (Adobe xd), etc. AWS is the cloud service provider with authentication from Firebase and Maps from google. The product is built 100% remotely.

Challenges we ran into

  1. The first challenge was finding good team members with relevant expertise. But, we got through with it due to the hard work and volunteers joining because of the product being innovative.
  2. Management of tasks. We then created a Trello and GitHub task board for better collaboration.

*One thing I've noticed while building our product is the founder's vision for the product is very important. When I first pitched the idea of SoloCoin, I was alone. But the idea was innovative and have never been done before. The vision I put to gamify social-distancing resonated with people and that helped us in getting amazing people with great skills from across the world to voluntarily work on my idea without any financial incentive. People were and still are excited every day they wake up to build and scale the product. And, that's it went from an idea to an MVP then to a working product. *

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  1. The clarity in our concept.
  2. Innovative approach towards social-cause using gamification.
  3. 500+ waitlist signups in 4 days.
  4. 2000+ user visits since the website launch.
  5. The prototype was done in 3 days. India launch planned by April-15. Global launch planned by May-1st week (if we get funding).
  6. Positive feedback and support from across the community, both tech and non-tech. Influencers asking to promote our app for FREE. Many top-level government officials agreed to promote our product in their network.
  7. Partnerships for reward coupons.
  8. Partnerships with multiple influencers.
  9. An amazing team of 20+ open-source collaborators. 100% remote.
  10. Tackling a greater cause to eradicate COVID-19 from the face of the earth through gamified social-distancing.

What we learned

  1. Clear documentation from both product and development perspective for faster user onboarding.
  2. Vision to make a greater impact motivates a person more than money.
  3. Distribute department leads early on to avoid clashes among members. We were lucky that we did it early on.
  4. Single design philosophy to avoid misalignment of colors, content that is being pushed to the internet for promotion and visibility.
  5. Don't let negative people come anywhere near your extremely positive and passionate team. Take care of your team.
  6. Regular motivation and clear communication are very important when managing a remote team.
  7. Ideas are the most valuable asset to any startup. That's why we have a dedicated #ideas channel in our discord for people to post ideas that can help improve our product. Till now we have received 20+ ideas in 15 days. Some of them can be seen below.

What's next for SoloCoin

  1. Proximity-based social-distancing to track if the user in your proximity is infected or not.
  2. Rewarding for good habits like washing hands, timely self-isolation, etc.
  3. Determining efficient/less crowded routes for commute and avoid people.
  4. Users can chat with nearby quarantined people.
  5. Map list of nearby available essential stores for groceries, medicines, etc.
  6. Users can add a mask to their profile picture to tell people they are practicing social-distancing.

...and much more from our #ideas list to be implemented.

Try It out



amazon-web-services, android-studio, firebase, geo-fencing, google-cloud, google-maps, java, postgresql, ruby-on-rails

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