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Neighbourhood at the center – bringing them online

The Local Tribe

Vineet and I both love to travel, our last adventure being an arduous trek over some seven days on the frozen Zanskar river in Ladakh, in some minus 25C! Sometime after this trek, and towards the end of 2014, Vineet was obsessing with the problems that a person, a traveler in particular, faces while in a new city. If only this traveler could have access to a platform that connected them to the people in the know – the locals – at least some of the travelers’ problems could find a resolution. Besides, it could help the locals monetize their time using the local knowledge they had. While the idea was thus born, it took many deliberations, some pivots, and about last six months of design and development to get the first version of the product out.

The Local Tribe is bringing your neighbourhood online! As part of an online neighbourhood in a city or town, it hopes to enable you to do online at least some of those activities that one would associate with neighbourhoods.

It could be that Drill machine that you need to borrow. It may be your vacant car parking that you want to rent out. May be, you have a driver you can share with an elderly neighbour for his weekly visit to the doc. May be, you yourself are that willing driver? Your old digital camera might need to be sold. Or, you may want to report that broken street lamp to your Community / RWA office.

Besides all these activities, we also believe that a neighbourhood typically holds, and often keeps hidden, many people with skills waiting to express themselves.

Think of that lady in your neighbourhood that cooks awesome momos! Okay, not momos but may be pickles? Or, that gentleman who loves gardening and could share a tip or trick with you! I, for one would love to teach some basic Physics to kids! 🙂

One observation that we all have here within the team, and most outside would also agree is that at least in our own country, and possibly in many others, it is the woman in the household who in spite of all her education, learning and the skills, is forced into a routine that leaves her little time to pursue her career. Without going into its reasons that would take us into realms not intended here, we asked ourselves: may be, she cannot devote the 8-12 hours a day pursuing her interests, to a full-time career, but can she give 6 hours? May be 4 hours? May be even 2?

A key objective for The Local Tribe is to enable people with skills to monetize their time! We are not thinking about full-time jobs here! We are thinking about people who have acquired useful skills – whatever they may be – and how we could create an opportunity for them to utilize those skills and monetize their time. And do so by putting those skills to use around them, in their locality and within their neighbourhoods. We may be solving a problem, but our focus is squarely on enabling opportunities.

In our stories, the team often puts in front of them the picture of an old lady sitting in some remote corner wanting to buy her grandchild a gift. This old lady also has great stories to tell. We want her to be able to tell her stories, and to earn at least enough to buy that gift for her grandchild! The day we enable that would be the day we probably attain our Nirvana!

The app is now live for both Android and iPhone. While we plan to start with our outbound communications and formally launch sometime towards the end of August, please do check the app out. Sign up using either Facebook or Google, verify your mobile number and:

  • Join your neighbourhood: Choose your locality e.g. Malad West, or Andrews Ganj etc:

  • Open your skill based store (In case you want to open your skill based storefront): Select skills from one of the categories and then complete the rest of the details like your travel preferences, availability and how much would you charge for your time. Feel free to add your Aadhar or other verification. You may skip it at this time.


  • Check your friends’ store if they have one: My store for example would appear as below. You can chat with me and hire me if you like! 🙂 But you will need to verify your identity to do so.

  • Do some activity in your neighbourhood: Sell your old household stuff, share your vacuum cleaner if you like, or put you garage on rent.

In case you find that your city is “Locked”, fret not! You can always browse other open cities – Noida, Mumbai, Bengaluru and a few others.

Here is the common app download link. Depending on your device OS, you would be taken to the right store.

There is so much more that I would like to share. While short, it’s been a fun journey so far! Hopefully, it will be a long one and with many interesting stories to tell. Our greatest immediate challenge is to seed the platform. There are a few things we have planned. It is difficult to say which one’s will work and which not. But it is almost a given that each neighbourhood will come to have its own character unique in many ways, as unique as the people inhabiting those neighbourhoods. It is almost a given then that we will need to address each neighbourhood in its own unique way. Our greatest challenge ahead is to keep the platform flexible and nimble enough to allow each to flourish.

You can help us! After a while, we all develop blind spots! All of us here at The Local Tribe would love to see what we now cannot – listen to your feedback, criticism, suggestions for improvement. If nothing, just a hello would do fine too!

Wishing you all very happy 70th Independence Day celebrations! May peace prevail!

Connect with us: About Vineet | About me

I am on Twitter @jvarma. And you may follow more updates @thelocaltribe

And we are on Facebook too! Do visit us!


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  1. The challenge with hyper local apps/ services is creating a habit amongst people to use them.

    Only Cabs / Food services have succeeded as hyper local because they DEMAND being locally available.

    However, I just don’t understand why these use cases (Strange and rare) will bring people back to the app/service DAILY

    “It could be that Drill machine that you need to borrow. It may be your vacant car parking that you want to rent out. May be, you have a driver you can share with an elderly neighbour for his weekly visit to the doc. May be, you yourself are that willing driver? Your old digital camera might need to be sold. Or, you may want to report that broken street lamp to your Community / RWA office.”

    All apps are now Glocal! Why not bring A SERVICE on the app that can be used to match make people around the world vs. just a neighbourhood?!

  2. True Alok! For services app, creating that habit is a very very long drawn and extremely hard process. More so for those that are built around one service / vertical. Depending on what that service is and where it lies in a user’s natural consumption patterns, it can be very difficult to continue to occupy their mindspace once that service has been fulfilled. That is why if one is focussed on a single service / vertical, it should better be like cabs or food which not only demand that they be local but also where the supply to demand ratios are favorably skewed. Even such preconditions have not prevented quite a few food tech cos from faltering, but thats another story!

    When the demand is rare (e.g. borrowing a drill machine, or renting a vacant car parking none of which though I find strange within my own limited personal experiences), creating a service around it would be that much more difficult to scale when restricted by hyperlocal context. And these are only examples that I have highlighted. I have no idea how this is all going to really pan out in our own context. Much of this is currently based on a lot of gut feel. Today, I cannot say with any significant confidence how a neighbourhood will respond to these various use cases! The best we can do is to keep our heads down and continue to chisel the product, and strive to keep the platform flexible and nimble enough so that it enables with a reasonably good experience, the multitude of such use cases, some obvious, some strange, some rare and some not so.

    Will these bring people back to the app daily? Left to itself, I doubt it! After all, and we asked ourselves, how many times will I feel like asking someone to help me with say, Gardening tips!!?? We worry about this! And we worry about this day-in and day-out! Generally speaking, and it is almost cliched to say that content will do the trick. What form of useful content, and how and to whom they will be delivered will probably be more important and more interesting. Answers to those will come with some experiments as we start rolling them out in select neighbourhoods, pending a crucial update coming in a few days’ time.

    “Why not bring A SERVICE on the app that can be used to match make people around the world vs. just a neighbourhood?!”

    Sure! Why not? And there are people doing exactly that, Fiverr, and Tinder to name a few and there are possibly many more. And that is true even for The Local Tribe. Why should we not let the story / script writer in Timbuktoo connect with someone in Ceylon? Of course, we will! But then, what gets exchanged will essentially be digital!

    At The Local Tribe however, we have chosen to focus on the neighbourhood as a community- to enable them with a reasonably good experience online, to connect and engage in the offline world. What they make of this opportunity, if they do that is, I would not even hazard a guess right now! As I said, we really do not know if this is the right approach, but this the direction that our gut takes us in. We will know in time where it leads us.

    P.S. Saw a post on this forum just a while ago:… That is also, one of the many use cases we hope to do justice to!  

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