Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Startup Club: Yo

We speak to CEO Or Arbel about the social media platform that started off as a joke and now has over a million followers

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: July 3rd, 2014 in Business » World

Over the past few decades, a growing number of small businesses involved in various industries have popped up around the world meeting the needs of an ever-growing, ever-changing market.

Jewish businessmen and innovators continue to excel throughout these industries, displaying their prowess as creative, forward-thinking entrepreneurs, and tapping into continuously developing markets with ‘startup’ companies.

In a bid to recognize these decorated entrepreneurs for their ongoing contributions and advancements to these fields, Shalom Life is pleased to present: Startup Club, highlighting the best and the brightest of Jewish entrepreneurs who continue to provide our community with new, influential and innovative ideas that will forever change the way we interact with the world, and with one another.

Follow our lead and we’ll follow yours – send us tips or suggestions via email, comment below or tweet us @ShalomLife, in our mission to celebrate the most visionary of Jewish entrepreneurs.

Check out last week’s inductee into the Club here.

Business: Yo

Base Of Operations: San Francisco, California

Entrepreneurs: Or Arbel and Moshe Hogeg

Industry: Technology/Communication

Founded: 2014

In an age when everyone’s trying to find new and exciting ways to advance communication, who knew it would only take two letters to not just reinvent how people talk to each other, but make it so much simpler?

Yo.

That’s it. That’s all. That simple.

Although this may sound like a joke, and perhaps it started that way, Yo has now gained over one million followers. The app, which only allows you to send your friends a “Yo” via push notification, was launched earlier this year and has gained momentum at breakneck speeds since its launch.

Based in San Fransisco, California, and with less than ten employees, this app was co-founded by Israelis Or Arbel and Mobli CEO, and founder, Moshe Hogeg. According to Arbel, in an exclusive interview with ShalomLife, the app was reluctantly designed to meet Hogeg’s everyday needs.

“So he asked me if I can make an app for him, for personal use, and that the app have just one big button that, when he taps it, sends a push notification to his assistant. Because he said that it’s really annoying for him that when he’s in a meeting and he needs her in the office, he needs to either text her, or call her, and it can be a lot of work especially when he’s with people,” Arbel explains to me. “He wanted this one big button and then he’d tell her that when she gets a push notification from this app, she knows he needs her. I told him I don’t have time to do it, and it’s a stupid idea anyways, so I didn’t do it.”

Although that could have been the end of Yo even before the company got started, Arbel explains it was only after careful consideration that he decided to make the app for Hogeg.

“Two weeks later he calls me again and asks for it. And again I told him that I don’t have time to do it because I was working really hard on another startup. But a day later I was driving my car and I thought about it, and I remembered that I’d talked with my friend on WhatsApp the same way. Basically communicating by sending each other messages that says nothing. Like, for example, a question mark or an exclamation point, and sometimes even a ‘yo’. So I said, ‘I’m already communicating with my friend the same way Moshe wanted to communicate with his secretary. So it might be a good idea.’”

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