Sci & Tech

New Social App Targets Cultural Development

Auto & Tech Desk
New Social App Targets Cultural  Development
New Social App Targets Cultural  Development

Coinciding with the First Architecture Biennial in Tehran, a new application named Peeyade (meaning a pedestrian in Persian) was launched mid-May.

Simply put, Peeyade is a platform that introduces cultural and recreational activities as well as other attractions of Tehran.

From listings of cafes, theater and cinema halls to art and architecture events, its content is produced organically by enthusiastic users who, for the most part, can post pictures of interesting places they visit in Tehran.

Content is submitted by citizens of Tehran who are interested in a particular field but do not necessarily need to be specialists in those areas. The app that works on devices running on Android or iOs, is available for download on Google Play and its Iranian equivalent Cafe Bazaar as well as the Apple Store.

The application lists three major sections: Peeyade Ro (Sidewalk), Events and Locations. The first section gives us general information about Tehran and announces city tours and fun routes for walking in Tehran. The content in this section is published in the form of animations and blog posts.

The events section lists cultural, recreational and sports happenings while the location category lists prominent venues and businesses.  

The initial idea for creating Peeyade was conceived by Lena Vafaey, 27, who has lived in Iran for most of her life but went away for undergraduate school and studied geotechnical engineering at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.  

In 2014, she began studying architecture in New York, which field she says was "her passion".  

While studying as an undergrad, she would do a lot of travelling and a lot of student exchange programs.

All the travelling experience and trying to discover a city through digital media and information motivated her to pursue the project that evolved into Peeyade.

"Two years ago when the idea first formed, I aimed to launch a website named "Into Tehran", which was basically a smaller version of what Peeyade is today," she explains.

While working on the project for four months, she would go out every day trying to discover Tehran.

"I was able to collect a lot of information and get to see where my passion lies," she says.

Vafaey also got in touch with a tech-savvy friend who told her that she needs to focus on developing the app.  

The project went on hold for eight months as she had to leave for grad-school. She was back for her summer holidays in Iran, but when it was time for her to return to New York she realized that the project would never finish if she left, so she decided to take a year off school to dedicate her time to advancing the project.

Three months before the official launch of the application, two other friends joined and helped her in various areas, including marketing and business analysis, completing the database, brainstorming about posts and obtaining the needed licenses.  

  Project Essence and Revenue Stream

When asked if Peeyade is a startup, Vafaey said she did not intend to make Peeyade a money-making online business and that it is closer to an online digital magazine.  

"My passion lies in the content; the vision is to give information to people so that they would become more involved with the city they are living in. The content and user experience is very heavy and my main focus is to ease that," she explains.   

This, according to Vafaey, will make it difficult to make money "because you will have to make compromises. You are going to have to bring down your user experience by bringing advertisements and will have to make business decisions where the content and the cultural side would diminish a bit."

Despite this, she explains that the monetary stream envisioned for Peeyade is through advertising.

"We expect revenue returns in a year or two when there's enough trust in the community for us to start advertising," Vafaey explains.  

Aside from ads, in-app purchases and selling digital tours will also be included in Peeyade in future. Although designing the application had started earlier, Peeyade like any other business had an Instagram page that was made for publicity.

The Instagram page, which currently has more than 24,000 followers, Vafaey says, won the project plenty of publicity before the application was launched.

  Competitors and Challenges

Asked about competitors, Vafaey says that there are quite a few, such as Tehraner that covers artistic and cultural events and iBartar that features restaurant and services, as well as Fidilio and iCoffee that list restaurants and cafes.

"We provide information like any other database, but at the same time we have a voice and a direction; Peeyade is city-oriented and focuses on culture and lifestyle," she said.  

According to her, Peeyade does not specialize in covering every single detail about a restaurant, instead the listings on Peeyade focus on mood and environment.

"We tell people where to go if they want to have breakfast or if they want to buy something for a special occasion, or if they want to eat outdoors," she said.

The content and voice, according to the founder, are what set Peeyade apart from similar services.

The audience targeted by Peeyade in Vafaey's words are technically 15-45 year olds who own a smartphone, but on a larger scale, "anyone who wants a better life in Tehran".

Detailing the challenges she has had to deal with down the way, she noted that "reaching out to people who were not in our circle was rather difficult as was the tech development".

"There is a lot that needs to be done in terms of app development," she said, it needs to move from being a static app into a smart app that would include smart tours of Tehran.

Vafaey explains that she received a lot of criticism on why Peeyade has focused on showing Tehran in only a positive way.  

"That was the goal," she says, "Everybody already knows what's bad about Tehran, pollution for example."


  Future Course

Asked where she sees the project going in the coming years, Vafaey said, "I want it to be one of the main sources of lifestyle in Tehran and to live side by side the city as it grows. We want to be one of the frontrunners that brings out the news of what's happening and where."

She notes that "our goal is in subtle ways to initiate cultural development for making people better citizens of the city."  

Vafaey hopes to publish a hard copy of the magazine in future and to redesign the website. Other possible categories for expanding Peeyade's portfolio could be clothing and art stores.