Rafiqi App: Connecting Activities to Connect People

Christina Fakhry, Feb 08 2016

Do you ever browse through event listings on social media and just wish there was some kind of platform that is solely dedicated to connecting you with people who share the same interests/activities as you?

The wait is over. Rafiqi, one of the six Lebanese startups that graduated from Speed@BDD’s first acceleration cycle, has definitely got your back on this one.

Conceived by ex-schoolmates Rawad Fakhri, Wael Hourani, and Ahmad Wehbe, the mobile application connects people based on the activities they are most interested in.

From Online Interactions to Real-Life Outings

The concept of the app is straightforward. Users can either browse through activities that other users in their circles have suggested, or suggest their own.

“This can be anything from a drink this evening to a hiking trip next weekend or a movie screening sometime this month. Users can then get together accordingly to do their favorite activities,” Rafiqi co-founder Ahmad Wehbe told ArabNet.

The idea behind Rafiqi emerged from the incessant nagging of a friend of the team whose taste in outings was quite different than that of the three co-founders, who often turned him down whenever he suggested a plan.

“It was the difficult situation he was put in every time he had to choose between doing the things he genuinely loves and hanging out with his usual friends that inspired our vision of helping users 'do what they love, with the right people',” Wehbe noted.

According to the founders, what sets Rafiqi apart from other platforms that connect people of similar interests is that it is solely built around user-generated activities - as opposed to large events, dating or chatting platforms. The app is also location-based, which encourages users to step out of their existing online circles and meet real-life people around them.

“In contrast with other solutions that focus on building longer-term communities or groups, we help users match with each other instantaneously to plan any activity they're in the mood for today or over the weekend. Put simply, we distinguish ourselves by focusing on activities, here and now,” Wehbe explained.

“We also encourage those open to [exploration] to find new experiences they wouldn’t necessarily have pursued on their own,” he said.

Stepping into the Business Ecosystem

After completing its first 3-month round of acceleration in September 2015, Rafiqi is currently in its Beta phase. The co-founders are planning to launch in Dubai in the near future, and will subsequently be looking to raise investment to further develop their product.

“Our partnership with Speed was very rewarding. They played a significant part in facilitating our immersion into the startup ecosystem in Lebanon and linking us to relevant mentors and potential investors,” Wehbe told ArabNet. “

After testing the Beta version of Rafiqi with over 100 users in Beirut and receiving great feedback from expats, tourists, and hobby enthusiasts in particular, the founders decided on Dubai as a first offshore market given the concentration of this type of demographic there.

“We're currently in discussion with several activity-organizers and interest groups in Dubai. These partnerships will materialize and kick-off once we open up to the Dubai market,” Wehbe explained.

The app will be offered for free for the time being. The founders are not looking to monetize it until they build a broad and active user-base. “Once we do, we'll be looking to monetize through sponsored events, venue suggestions, and in-app purchases,” Wehbe noted.

For those of you who feel like giving the app a try already, Rafiqi is available on Google Play and will soon be available on iOS.

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