“People have been embracing the call to action to help others”: Interview with Qoorio’s CEO Justas

We all know open knowledge platforms Wikipedia and Quora, but have you heard of Qoorio? And how is it helping now in this time of social isolation?

Qoorio is an app where users can pass on and share real-life knowledge, from professional startup founder questions, to daily queries like how to train a dog. Users create their own profile of expertise, post or respond to a question, and can even have a real conversation with other users on the phone or have a virtual cup of coffee, making the experience that little bit more human. Plus, Qoorio helps to ‘do good’, with users earning money by taking part, which they can then donate to a charity of their choice.

We grabbed some time to talk to Qoorio’s co-founder Justas Janauskas, who alongside co-founder Gabija Grušaitė, has built the Qoorio community to more than 20,000 users in less than a year. Read on to find out why they believe it’s the ‘conversational’ aspect that is important in sharing knowledge, the social impact of Qoorio, and the ‘Covid-19 support community’ they’ve set up to beat the negative elements of social isolation.

To set the scene, can you tell us how you came to start Qoorio?

The idea of Qoorio was born when Gabija and I (co-founders of the company) realised that even after living in such a small city like Vilnius, having a wide network of people we know and spending time in the same venues, our social bubbles rarely overlapped. Gabija was surrounded by people from the art world, and I mingled with those in the tech, business and startup space.

Despite the contrast, we soon became aware that those two very different social bubbles are in need of each other. People from Gabija’s world were lacking the knowledge that people from my world had – and vice versa.

So, we thought of creating an app that helps to connect people from different walks of life – an app connecting people who have knowledge to share with the people who need the answers.

What makes Qoorio unique?

Qoorio is the first app of its kind. You have Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (all social networks like Qoorio) but their purpose is different – you don’t necessarily use these sites to share knowledge by speaking with other users. Then, you have Google, YouTube and Wikipedia – they are essentially information and knowledge databases but are not designed to enable interactive human conversations.

We see Qoorio as a combination of the two. From learning how to monetise your business idea, to growing your own tomatoes at home, Qoorio aims to close the ever-growing knowledge gap by connecting curious individuals. As humans, we rarely have all of the answers, but it’s hard to find people who have the experience that would be a massive help to our projects.

So, Qoorio is uniquely using technology to create a community of people who are willing to share and learn from each other.

On the app you can search through thousands of topics and individuals, connect with other users, meet them for coffee, chat online or arrange a phone call as a way to learn from them. By tapping into the knowledge, experience and wisdom of others we can fuel personal and business growth – and yes, create a better future.

How do you keep the ‘human’ element of sharing knowledge, on a 100% digital platform?

While the platform is 100% digital, its users are real people who are there to share their knowledge and experience – the platform is just the facilitator to connect the two individuals.

With many people socially isolating, has this affected your business? Are there more people wishing to connect, now they are working remotely, and do you see this increasing in the future with the homeworking trend?

Given the current situation, the ill effects of social isolation are a genuine concern. As much as simply staying in touch with people is important, people still want to use this time productively and apps like Qoorio are helping them to continue to have meaningful experiences and use their time with purpose.

Qoorio users share their time through video calls or a chat for free or a fee which goes to charity, so the app is also a great way to cultivate genuine meaningful social interaction during this time of isolation as well as do good.

We have also activated a Covid-19 support community to help beat the negative outcomes of quarantine – offering home exercise advice, home working advice, career advice as well as nutrition, cooking and other wellbeing measures.

It’s been amazing to see how people have been embracing the call to action to help others out in times of need. Since the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve seen users on the app increase. Although it is a worrying and challenging time it goes to show that technology can have a positive impact on our lives when we need it most.

For open platforms like Qoorio, how do you manage the accuracy of the answers shared?

Qoorio provides the answers to questions that you can’t find on Google or Wikipedia – the questions that don’t have straightforward answers. Answers to these questions mostly depend on your context, and multiple true answers may exist at the same time. Often there is no single answer to such questions.

What we are focused on is helping people to share stories and learnings from new or difficult situations that people have experienced in the past. Of course, often there will not be a straight solution to your problems. But the context and experience that these human connections provide are incredibly valuable. So rather than measuring accuracy we want to show how in conversation you can far more easily see different perspectives that were unavailable to you previously.

Since Wikipedia, open knowledge sharing has come a long way! Where do you see this sector growing in the next 5-10 years?

Platforms like Wikipedia have made objective and factual information accessible to everyone. But, now it’s time to make individual experiences and knowledge available to everyone. So many people find themselves in challenging situations – like needing to understand how to scale their startup, for example – and there are just as many people who have been in similar situations. With this in mind, we will continue to see open knowledge sharing grow across a number of topics and subject matters in the next few years in order to close that knowledge gap – there will be no stone left unturned!

Qoorio feels focused on positive change, and philanthropy, as opposed to purely sharing knowledge. Why was this aspect important to you to build into the branding?

As a company and brand, we believe that the future generation of business will primarily focus on “doing good” and making a positive impact on society. We believe that connecting individuals to be able to share and learn from each other is a good and meaningful goal, and if we can amplify the positive impact by enabling individuals to easily donate to a charity too, then that’s even better.

You previously went through a re-branding, having been HumansApp. Why was this the right moment, and do you have tips for startups thinking of doing the same?

As we grew and scaled as a company, we realised that our core spirit is about knowledge and curiosity first, and humans second. Therefore, we redesigned the product and changed our name to best reflect this. We are in the early stages of our business and have the luxury to make bold moves relatively easily. Our top tip for startups thinking of rebranding is to do it sooner rather than later.

What has been your biggest learning from Qoorio? 

Our biggest learning was that implementing the “grand vision” for the business is not a straightforward path – it takes a lot of courage, effort and grit.

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