Recently we had an opportunity to speak with Prithviraj Patrudu Lanka, the Founder/Volunteer at Strappd about Strappd
Please share with us the backstory of what motivated you to create this app.
Five years back, when I was on my way to work, I came across a homeless person who requested for help and mentioned he's short of cash(App Named after this as Strappd). I gave him a couple of dollars and a few hours later I saw the same person coming out from a liquor store. I felt bad that the money I gave ended up hurting him rather than helping him. So, I thought to myself, how I could help the homeless in a better way. One interesting thing I noticed while passing the homeless in downtown is that some of them have cell phones with them. I researched on this and found that more than 50% of the homeless and runaway youth carry some kind of smart phones with them. This gave me an opportunity to help because I'm already working in technology field. I thought it would be better if I can connect homeless to service providers directly instead of giving money. So, in 2016, I started working on this app by getting feedback from homeless people in Downtown Denver and also from our local COC (MDHI). After thorough testing, we released the mobile web app version in November 2017, Google Play Store in January 2018 and to the Apple App Store in March 2018.
What features do you hope to roll out to your app in the future?
In our next major release, we are hoping to implement offline support since most of the homeless have trouble finding an internet connection. We are also planning on adding Google Translate since some of the users in US\Canada are looking for Spanish\French translation.
What is the coolest or most innovative feature of your app?
One of the features that the users are most excited about is, the app would show transit directions from their location to the community service. We also think the flag button which connects users to service providers directly is one of the best features of our app.
What surprised you most in your journey to create this app?
The idea of creating an app for homeless itself surprised many people(including us) and raised questions on how they can actually afford a phone when they don't even have a place to live. I did research on this and found some articles that mentioned at least 50% of homeless owning some kind of smart phones. Now, We have close to 30,000 users who downloaded our app across all three platforms.
Do you have any recommendations or advice for others wanting to create a mobile app?
I would advice doing a thorough research before jumping to create an app. Once you decide that your idea would be the next big thing, create a prototype and test it with as many users as you can before releasing it. After the release, market your app using various platforms like Google Ads, Social Media, etc. Checkout user feedback regularly to get an idea on the user issues and try to resolve them quickly.
How did you decide which platforms to release your app on and do you plan on releasing your app to other platforms?
Initially, We didn't have much info on what kind of phones the homeless would use. So, we decided to go with ionic framework since it's a Hybrid Cross platform framework. From our analysis over the past year, we found that most of them used Android platform to download our app.
How is your app different than the rest of the market? Which unique need does it fill?
Our app is mainly targeted towards homeless people especially youth and has around 5000 services listed across US and Canada. Our app lists services for five basic needs(Food, Shelter, Health, Resources, & Work) that we see in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. This app is like a tool for homeless people to navigate the web of social services.
You can view Strappd here
For more information, visit: https://strappd.app/