A number of startups are experimenting with what a better social app could look like. For a startup called Alms, the answer is a social network that focuses on the well-being of users by participating in challenges led by creators in areas such as personal growth, sustainability and others with positive impacts. . Instead of generating “likes” like on other social apps, Alms aims to encourage engagement in the real world through its challenges and the specific steps and actions that need to be taken.
The idea, says Alms founder Alexander Nevedovsky, is to design an app that guides users to happier and more meaningful lives when they use it. This is something modern social platforms can’t really promise to do.
Work on the project began at the start of the pandemic in 2020, Nevedovsky says.
âA lot of us felt depressed and sad, at home without much access to friends and family,â he explains. “I felt like the world really needed something that was a little more than meditation, journaling, or mood tracking – all of these apps and techniques are great, but they’re not. designed to improve your everyday life, by interacting in the real world. “
However, the original version of Alms released last year lacked something that would make the app “sticky”. Users signed up because they liked the concept, but at some point they gave up and stopped participating in the activities. The startup knew it needed something more to connect users to their journeys, which is why it has now transformed to become more of a social community.
When you first launch the new Alms app, you go through a brief onboarding process where you select your interests in three main hot areas: personal growth, sustainability and impact. For example, “personal development” interests may include things like mental health, wellness, spirituality, or relationships. âSustainabilityâ focuses on interests related to the environment and nature. And âimpactâ would encompass things like activism, volunteerism, local community and more.
Once setup is complete, you can follow creators who post challenges or choose to join individual challenges, each with their own set of steps to take to complete them completely. For example, in a challenge focused on improving your work-from-home lifestyle, the steps guide users to take action to improve their workspace and work-life balance (by planning breaks and stops). difficult in their day, for example) and ask to add physical activity to their routines, among other concrete actions.
When you participate in a challenge by completing and checking each step, you are prompted to post a story about that step in that challenge’s feed to inspire others, who can add an encouraging comment. But collecting likes and comments is not Alms’ goal, Nevedovsky says.
âWe see a huge possibility in allowing more and more people with expertise in these topics – personal growth, sustainability and impact of all kinds – to essentially try to increase their impact with us,â he notes. . “We allow them to put all of their knowledge or content in a scalable way so that people can actually – dislike it, not comment – but try to repeat it.”
At launch, Alms has around 30 creators sharing their content as challenges on its app, with 15 more in the works. He hopes to reach a few hundred in the next few months. So far, the new version of the app has also attracted a few thousand users.
Many of the app’s challenges have been joined by hundreds of users, so you feel like you’re part of a bigger event when you click to join. However, I would personally prefer that posting a story and sharing it to the feed is optional – not every step deserves its own posting, I think. (And sometimes you might have nothing to say about the minor steps you’ve taken, and you end up feeling like you’ve cluttered the news feed with less than useful posts.)
Alms was co-founded with startup studio Palta, which hosts apps like Flo.Health, Simple Fasting, and Zing Fitness Coach. Palta owns a majority stake in Alms and the company has no other outside investments. A team of fourteen people distributed remotely are working on the Alms application, which is currently not monetized.
Nevedovsky says the team is considering adding some sort of token-based economy or perhaps DAO that would pass some sort of rewards into the real world. This could include the possibility of participating in the governance of Alms or joining a creator’s fund, for example. The tokens, at least in the short term, would not be tradable. The business can also consider simpler ideas, such as in-app tips. But nothing has been determined yet as Alms is still working on product market fit and evolving its user base.
Overall, Alms looks like it might appeal to those who want to be more mindful and impactful about how they spend their time on social apps, but are looking for inspiration with a more specific direction.
âI think most of the time people put their hopes on what will happen in the future without really influencing it. So I think having an app that helps you with ideas and inspiration from people who know what they share, what they recommend, is very useful, especially when it comes to support â, Nevedovsky notes. “People [on Alms] really careful.
The app, we found, is well built and attractively designed. But it could still face the initial problem of dropping users, despite its new social components, given the competition for screen time on today’s mobile devices.
Alms is a free download on iOS only at this time.