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I met Nils Forsblom the first time during primary school when we were in the same class in Turku, Finland. At the end of primary and secondary school we went on our own ways but twenty years later our paths crossed again via Twitter. Nowadays I am still in Turku but Nils is creating his future as an entrepreneur in California.
After founding the ecommerce company Fruugo it was time to create something new and we are now about to preview what he’s been up to.
The reasoning behind TenFarms is quite obvious as two years ago Nils noticed that current services on the Internet didn’t offer what he needed. He has travelled a lot during his life and while on a trip he wanted to know what was happening in the places he visited, what kind of people were around and what they were doing and also wanted a way to keep up with his friends. Of course services like Foursquare and Twitter combined with user forums can help with this but gathering this information using multiple mobile applications is difficult or even impossible.
Creating another Facebook was a dead idea before it even came to mind but a new social discovery platform idea was starting to arise. TenFarms acts as a mobile application aggregator which gathers updates from favorite apps like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare, Gowalla and many others based upon your current or chosen location and gives all this information in one unified feed to the user while enabling instant communication between people in the same area. Serendipity at its best.
I had a Skype session earlier this week where Nils demonstrated TenFarms to me and one thing that instantly caught my eye was the simplicity of the stylish and beautiful user interface. For me this wasn’t that big of a surprise as one school memory about Nils was his eye for design. During the session he admitted that he almost drove designers to madness with his obsession to make every little design perfect on TenFarms. What else you can expect from a man who values user experience over everything?
User interface itself changes dynamically based on what the user is doing, for example when you’re checking your own profile you’ll see your position on map and Google Street View from your location. This is combined with your moments, e.g. your updates or comments on many different social services in one feed which gives you great overview on what you’ve been up to lately.
If you want to know who else is in the same area, you can just choose a view where TenFarms shows the people on the area directly pinned to the map. By choosing the person you can see her updates from the social applications she’s using and wants to share via TenFarms. The coolest thing is that you can start a group chat with the people in any area in the world whether they are your friends or not (as said before, serendipity at its best).
Naturally you can use the map to search or browse anywhere around the world or focus on friends in specific groups. On a basic level the open concept of a friend is the same as in Twitter or Google+ meaning you can follow anyone you like and start a conversation with them.
TenFarms runs on the latest technology with techniques used both on the front end and the back end. Systems are built on Ruby on Rails, node.js and the user interface is built on HTML5 and backbone.js which also enables seamless scaling between different mobile devices, tablets and larger displays. Native applications for Android and iPhone are coming and actually might be that the iPhone application is under development as we speak.
For the application developers TenFarms will be a treat as it will offer it’s own API which enables mostly any mobile application to be added to TenFarms’ feed if he wishes to (a developer has to follow the visual guidelines of TenFarms). This API could give a new renaissance for even the smaller applications used in specific areas as they now have the ability to broadcast for a wider audience than would be normally possible.
Nils also has another startup called Photopoll, which is developing an iPhone application that can be used for picture based crowdsourcing. Photopoll will also be a showcase for developers on how to integrate a little more complex third party mobile applications into TenFarms. TenFarms is also using the same API to continuously integrate more mobile applications so the user would have all of their applications they are normally using available on also on TenFarms.
Our long term vision is to build the most beautiful ecosystem in the world, not necessarily to be the biggest.
– Nils Forsblom, TenFarms
TenFarms will be available for first wave users in the next few weeks but before that is possible the user needs to request an invite by tweeting to TenFarms.