It was in March 2015 that we launched our very first version of YO!, a mobile app that stemmed from our own experiences with trying to connect in areas with expensive data plans and slow Internet speeds. It doesn’t seem that long ago, and yet so much has happened in the last 12 months. Now we’re on the edge of launching Wave; addressing the same core issues but with a new look and a more sophisticated feature set.

With YO!, we successfully reached users with connectivity issues in emerging markets. With Wave, we plan to do the same for businesses, content creators, and publishers with similar issues – while still creating great user experiences and new features for our day-to-day users.

I know what you’re thinking.  Why the rebrand to Wave, and why now?

Well before I address that, let’s talk about the last year.  It certainly has been one hell of a year.

Our First Year

The response we have received from our users within the first year with YO! has been fantastic.  Without focusing on ramping up growth, we’ve had close to 700,000 installs with an above average rating of 4.1 on Google Play – mostly from users in countries such as Bangladesh, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Iran to name a few.

Engagement within YO! has been very encouraging.  Our users have been using YO! to communicate and share content with friends nearby – direct, fast and free – with over 500,000 messages and content shares sent over the HyperNet (our offline communication protocol) so far.

We launched our iOS version in November after a lot of blood, sweat and tears.  Building YO! on iOS proved to be a much more difficult exercise than it was for Android, but with perseverance we were able to overcome a lot of hurdles we faced.  And while there are many ‘file sharing’ apps in the market that allow direct sharing between Android and iOS devices, we are the first and only app in the market to offer seamless discovery and communication with multiple Android and iOS users - fast, direct and without the Internet.

Towards the end of the year, we came up with a goal that we thought was near impossible to attain - getting 1000 users in Cuba.  We strongly believed that YO! could add real value for users in Cuba who have little to no connectivity, and so after a lot of research we sought out a totally different way of distributing our app through a system known as ‘paquetes’, which turned out to be successful;  in around 3 months, we have gained more than 12,000 users in Cuba alone!

So it’s been a very good first year for us.  We’re now very excited to release the new version of the app with a revamped design and some very cool features – like discovering exciting content from people nearby - all without the Internet.

Why Wave?

While we’ve been refining the app over the past year, we have also learned a lot.  We’ve been learning more about our target users and the realities that they face.  We have discovered that it is not only users, but businesses too who face similar issues in reaching out to their customers.  In addition, we’ve been closely examining the global disruptors that are taking place in emerging markets - such as rapid urbanization, a growing affluent middle class, and the digitization of everything.  These disruptors undoubtedly open giant opportunities, but warrant a fresh approach to thinking about how people, services and things should connect to each other.

In short, our greatest realization has been that YO! is only the beginning of something much, much bigger.  We started on YO! with a simple idea addressing a fundamental need – the need for people to connect and share with each other without any cost or speed constraints.

We’re therefore going to henceforth be known as Wave.  Our mission undoubtedly remains the same – we want to connect the next billion in a smarter way.  But we are no longer just a communication app. How did we come up with that name you ask?

There is a lot of symbolic significance in the name to what we are building – the hand ‘wave’ that is used as a greeting, the ocean ‘wave’ that starts with a small movement of water and spreads widely, the wireless ‘wave’ that’s used as our core technology, and the Mexican ‘wave’ in stadiums that start with one person before it spreads to the entire crowd.

Wave is the core technology that will allow us to change the way the world connects. We have a variety of new and innovative features coming down the pipeline and we’re excited to share them as they unfold. Get ready to Join the Wave!

Wave isn’t quite ready to be released yet – but we’re so close we can taste it. If you want to be one of the first to know, click here to sign up to get an email as soon as we say ‘go’.