Luis Gelado, founder of Wave: “It’s not a game or a social network: it’s a tool that helps you find people.”

How do you meet up with your friends? How do you reach the people you have meetings with? “We continue calling each other and sending messages to meet up. ‘How long are you going to take?’ ‘Where are you?’ ‘I can’t see you!’ ‘Are you inside?’ ‘Have you gotten there already?’ It’s an an obsolete procedure for the times we’re living in,” says Luis Gelado, one of the founders of Wave. And it is precisely for this reason he created this app: a solution (currently available for iOS and Android, although they aren’t ruling out Windows Phone or BB) that appears on your mobile screen to let you know where someone is in the exact moment you need to know it, with prior authorization.

With the second version launched in October 2014, six employees, a first round of investment of 375,000 euros and 80,000 registered users according to the company’s data, Manuel de La Esperanza and Luis Gelado intend to go where the giants have not reached – neither Apple with Find My Friends nor Google with Latitude – and become a ‘must’ for any smartphone. “We want to revolutionize the way people meet up with each other,” they say. How? And what challenges does geolocation entail? From their office in Madrid, they answered these questions and more.

How did Wave come about?

It was by chance. In a business meeting, Manuel and I were waiting for another partner and weren’t able to reach him. We were waiting in the meeting room of a client who was growing impatient. Our partner wasn’t answering our calls or messages. He was on his way to the meeting, but was on a motorcycle and could not communicate with us. It was at that moment that we thought about the usefulness of having a tool that allows you to locate your contacts in real time.

What problem does it solve?

Wave isn’t a game, nor entertainment, nor is it trying to be anything close to a social network. Wave is a tool that enables you to find people. It makes the process of meeting up much easier.

Why have other products, like Latitude or Find My Friends, not had success with the same idea?

The concept behind these other tools was radically different. These were purely social tools. Behind Wave there is always a prior decision of meeting up with someone. In Latitude or Find my Friends, the approach was different. ‘Since I see that you are near, why don’t we see each other?’ Other apps like Facebook work this way. It seems this approach has not been well received by the user. In addition to this asset, these applications had important barriers to entry for users, absolute lack of control regarding privacy issues and inefficiency in the use of resources of people’s smartphones.

What is the most common use of the app? And the most interesting you have seen?

Leisure time: Meetups with friends, dates for couples, groups that organize dinners, and other uses such as business meetings, parents worried about their young children, etc. Interesting uses: some friends use it to play hide and seek in the city. They meet up to start hiding and then open a group Wave among several friends and turn it into a game of tag. Really fun.

Does Wave enable geolocalization indoors? Can I find my friends in an airport or shopping mall?

In this aspect there’s still much left to be done in terms of technology. There will come a day when buildings are all mapped out and we can control both horizontal and vertical location. So far, GPS connection allows us to determine the horizontal location inside buildings, which can be accurate in many cases. I have also used it at airports to locate friends who were waiting for me at a certain gate. I would just walk up to where they were on the map.

How does Wave earn money? What are its potential avenues of business?

Wave follows the typical American business growth model. Attracting users and much online traffic in the use of the service. There will be time to develop ways to capitalize on it that will ensure the viability of the company without having to go to the market for funding. But our intention is to have the service to the end user always be free and with no invasive advertising. The lines of business are to come through strategic partnerships with other brands, other companies. The B2B strategy must pinpoint the financial future of Wave.

Location is one of the essential elements of mobile technology and one of the most important categories on the user’s screen. What other opportunities do you think there are in this market?

Today there are world leaders in prominent fields such as social networking, microblogging, instant messaging or social relationships within the professional realm. No one has managed to achieve that level in location-based technology among contacts or users, as of yet. The potential here is huge and it will be one of the surges, within the digital world, with the highest development in the coming years. The opportunities are tremendous and we already have in mind other projects for the near future. Our ideas are very focused on specific niches in the world we live in, but that will be a conversation topic for another time. Now it’s time to focus on Wave.

Luis Gelado, founder of Wave: “It’s not a game or a social network: it’s a tool that helps you find people.”

Mobile World Capital Barcelona promotes entrepreneurship as a catalyst for mobile innovation and as a key agent for the progress of the economy and business community. The Programme of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (PEI) is currently one of the foundation's main efforts, and is meant to accelerate this transformation.

The PEI’s activities include 4 Years From Now (4YFN), an international mobile entrepreneurship event sponsored by Mobile World Capital Barcelona to place supply and demand in contact, promote knowledge transfer, and encourage networking among entrepreneurs, professionals, startups, accelerators, incubators and investors from around the world.

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