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Cameroonian born Heine Nzumafo launch new chat app

Cameroonian born Heine Nzumafo, has launched a new chat app dubbed Hiipe. Nzumafor who is an engineer and also a…

Cameroonian born Heine Nzumafo, has launched a new chat app dubbed Hiipe.

Nzumafor who is an engineer and also a US Army Veteran says the chat app allows users to earn points for chatting, which they can use to enter into raffles to win prizes or get discounts from participating worldwide.

Nzunafo created the app Hiipe as a means for smart phone users who he believes should be able to reap benefits by simply using their devices.

“Hiipe does just that, which is why I describe it simply as WhatsApp meets Groupon,” Nzumafo said.

The idea was conceived in 2001 and Nzumafo received his patent for the technology in 2014. Hiipe has been available in beta version for iOS and Android but is moving towards its next major release. Founder Nzumafo shares his story and the mission behind his app:

Please tell us more about yourself and your app, Hiipe.

Nzumafo: “I was born in Cameroon, W. Africa, immigrating to New York in 1995 at the age of 20. I studied Electrical Engineering at Stony Brook University and NYU Polytechnic University obtaining BEE and MS degrees in 1999 and 2002 respectively. From 2004 to 2011 I served in the United States Army as a Signal Officer, resigning my commission at the rank of Captain, to pursue my entrepreneurial goal of launching a chat app. After three prototypes and two name changes, Hiipe Beta was released to app stores and announced on the 3rd of April 2017 for Android and iPhones. Hiipe is a chat app that allows users to earn points for chatting, which they can use to enter into raffles to win prizes or get discounts from participating worldwide. I describe it simple as Whatsapp meets Groupon.”

HBM: What inspired you to start this company?

Nzumafo: “Inspiration was a process dating back to 2001 when I was considering a thesis for my graduate degree in Electrical Engineering. I wanted to explore the possibility of associating phone numbers with email addresses just like 1-800-FLOWERS could be associated to a number. Research would have required more than the one year I had for the master’s thesis. A few years later in 2010 while using Skype on my PC, I decided to try out the version for Skype on my smartphone. It then dawned on me the time was right to explore the possibility of associating emails with phone numbers using an app. The idea for a chat app was born. Understanding the magnitude of the opportunity compelled me to dig deeper in search for a business model and Hiipe is the result.”

 How is Hiipe different than other companies in your industry?

Nzumafo: “Hiipe is different because it bridges the gap between two industries – the chat app industry and the digital coupon industry. Over the years, chat apps have evolved from communication platforms to engagement platforms. Apps have implemented features like stickers, games, wire transfer, emojis, image filters, enhancements and others to keep users engaged. Hiipe is the first chat app to reward users for chatting, talking, browsing the web and even inviting others.”

Please give us a brief, step-by-step overview of how the app works.

Nzumafo: “When a user first logs in, Hiipe loads up their address book in the app revealing which of their contacts are on Hiipe; with these friends, they can click “connect” to start chatting once the request is accepted. For those who are not already registered with Hiipe, they can “invite” to Hiipe. Users can chat or call only users who have accepted their requests, and earn points for doing so.

Hiipe app has five tabs – Browse, Calls, Contacts, Rewards and Chats. The browse tab opens up the Google Chrome browser through which the user can browse and earn points. The Calls tab shows the call history and points accrued from calls and chatting. Users manage their contacts through the Contacts tab which first shows Hiipe friends before listing the users address book so they can easily invite other users. Chats are managed through the chat tab just like with any other chat app. Through the Rewards tab shows available raffles and discounts to redeem for points. What the user sees is based on what preferences they have set and what is locally available to them due to the geolocation factor. So for example, a user to flies into New York from San Francisco would see the campaign by the local spa for example, as well as all merchants that ship to New York. When they travel back to San Francisco, the local spa deal in New York would no longer be available to them. For those users who participate in raffles, they will be notified the day the raffle ends whether they have won or lost – of course, the winner is randomly selected!”

What is one major challenge you faced while launching your company?

Nzumafo: “One major challenge is the question, how do I find quality developer to come on board as a co-founder or even as a consultant?”

How did you overcome the challenge?

Nzumafo: “It is not easy to find developers, especially in the U.S. Most of them are either engaged on much more lucrative projects or working on their own ideas on the side. I resorted to outsourcing my development while leaning on a few developers I know for advice to ensure that I had the right standards to hold the outsourced team by.”

One expert tip for other entrepreneurs in the tech industry?

Nzumafo: “If you are going to outsource and choose to work with teams outside the United States (Asia and Eastern Europe for example) make sure you choose a company that is headquartered in the U.S. because it is easier to take legal action. The Better Business Bureau could help you with disputes against such businesses but not those headquartered abroad.”

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