Founded in 2010, Jiepang’s location-based check-in service has attracted more than 1.4 million users. Those users can earn badges and mayorships, share their check-ins on Chinese social networks, and interact with 300+ partner brands.
“We learn a lot from Foursquare, Gowalla, and a lot of location-based apps in the US,” Jiepang CEO David Liu told one interviewer. Jiepang has also leveraged near-field communication (NFC), so users with certain phones can swipe to check-in. Below, Liu explains how Jiepang caters to the Chinese market.
Tech Cocktail: What kind of partnerships do you have with brands like WWF, Puma, and McDonald’s?
Liu: We help brands connect their online and offline engagement. For example, we partnered with WWF to create a tip site on Jiepang, which offered location-based tips on energy-saving. It can be viewed online, and when users check-in at specific locations, relevant tips will be pushed to them on their mobiles, reminding them of what they can do in real-time and real-life to make the world a better place to live.
Tech Cocktail: Have you observed anything interesting about where, when, or how Chinese users like to use Jiepang?
Liu: We find that Chinese consumers are quite open to brand activities, and Jiepang becomes a gateway for consumers to connect with brands that they like. They love to check-in at specific locations to collect branded virtual badges, and to interact with brands; for example, to redeem special gifts or get a chance to win a free pass to an exclusive brand event. Very often when there is a brand activity at a specific location, the number of check-ins will rise dramatically in a very short period of time.
Tech Cocktail: How does Jiepang compare to Foursquare in the US?
Liu: As compared to the US, China’s local merchants and small-to-medium corporations are less sophisticated in terms of digital media, so Jiepang is paying a lot more effort on helping local merchants, marketers, and advertisers to leverage LBS [location-based services]. Now we have over 100 team members, and I believe our team is bigger than Foursquare, though we are younger as a company.
Tech Cocktail: Do you have any tips for other location-based services in China?
Liu: Different cities in China may have very different culture and needs. For LBS, it is very important to create a user experience that adapts to the local environment. Therefore we set up local offices in major cities across Greater China to serve local users better.
Tech Cocktail: Do you plan to expand beyond China?
Liu: For now, we’re still totally focused on serving the Greater China region, and have no plans to expand at the moment. That said, China has the largest population of mobile phone users in the world and is becoming increasingly connected with the rest of the world.