Guest feature kickstarts here with this post. I had met Jeff Cole, CEO Sujjest at a networking event in Seattle and came to know about his venture with his friends. Finally, I bring you the first guest article here, and this is the beginning of numerous reports by guest writers here.
# Sujjest: Turn friends’ ideas into a clear plan
Technology in recent years is working as a double-edged sword, enabling increased connection in some social circles and communities while at the same time leading to divisions and antisocial tendencies between and within others. Although social media enables a broad association across demographics and geographies, it can also remove the much needed personal human touch, especially among teenagers and youth. Remembering human touch, let’s listen to the breakout touching classic song by the fabulous Bruce Springsteen.
Further, social media can also lead to confusion and misinformation, with anonymous accounts or bots who could be bad actors playing a role in creating conflict. Social divisions exacerbated through unhealthy online behavioral practices can negatively impact well-being, an essential component of Sustainable Development Goals. The United Nations defines social division as a driving factor leading to disparities of outcome, decreasing equitable opportunities among disadvantaged people based on age, sex, disability, ethnicity, etc. in developing and low-income countries. Although the context and market to be addressed here may appear tangential to these UN objectives, nevertheless, in its larger implications, it’s a tool that may ultimately have the potential to ripple out and make a positive social impact both locally and globally.
# Midwest to West Coast: Introducing Social Innovation and Sujjest
Three friends, Jeff Cole (Seattle), Kjell Hansen and Sol DeLeon (Minnesota) from the US are creating an innovation in how groups make decisions together through positive disruptive use of technology. Enter Sujjest, an app for planning collaborative activities together. While the primary goal is to bring friends and connections together in real life, the creators also hope that Sujjest provides an outlet to new experiences. “We see Sujjest as a tool of social innovation” says CEO Jeff Cole. “So much of online social interaction has become toxic. The purpose of Sujjest is not to be an exhibitionist or a voyeur, but to use technology to connect individuals and make decisions for online activities.”
The idea of the tool arose, looking at vast limitations among the existing application in promoting curated and informed social get-togethers. “The existing tools don’t support collaborative decision-making,” says Sol DeLeon. “Either tool are entirely unstructured, like email and text messages, which results in a lot of back and forth discussion. On the ip side, tools like calendar invite or Doodle force one person to do all the planning.”
“Sujjest is leveraging technology to drive social innovation”
In addition to wanting a tool that allows groups to make better decisions, the team also wants to create a technology that brings people together in real life. The aim is to enhance the quality of socializing, making it more interactive in personal life. By applying innovative development techniques with web sockets and service workers, the team created an elegant interface that allows users to brainstorm and vote in a game-like fashion. Sujjest, as the name implies, intends to be both fun to use (hence the “jest”) and to allow participants to provide suggestions for fun activities or decisions.
# The Flavors and Methods of Sujjest
Sujjest and Social Innovation go hand in hand. There are currently two flavors of Sujjest, one for general purpose use and one focused on lunch decisions. The mechanism for the two flavors is the same. First, an initiator starts a group-decision with a prompt and invites others to respond by suggesting options and approving options added by other participants. Rather than discuss various possibilities back and forth, users enter their ideas as options onto a racetrack. The goal is to get an opportunity past the finish line at the end of the racetrack, at which point it becomes the group’s decision.
Unlike a run-off election, users can vote for as many options as they like known approval voting. It allows users to indicate all the options that they’d be happy to implement. Users tap on an option to approve it, and the option moves forward. Ideally, the group will reach a consensus decision, but if that is not possible, all participants can tap the finish line closer to lower the number of votes it takes an option to win by a majority, thus speeding up the decision process.
In the general-purpose form of Sujjest, users can add multiple related prompts to make multifaceted decisions, such as to determine what movie to see, on what date and at which theater. The tool works as a web app, and natively on Android and iOS, and only the initiator needs an account—others invited can participate by clicking a confirmation link in their email. However, the creators of Sujjest want to create an even more straightforward invitation process. Sujjest Lunch is a lightweight version of the tool that focuses on one particular common question: Where for lunch? Anyone can start a session just by going to sujjest.com/Lunch, grabbing a unique link, and sharing it with anyone they want to participate, through any messaging service.
Once someone clicks on the link, they enter a session where they enter their name and suggest new options, vote on existing options, move the finish line and comment. Sujjest Lunch was released just three weeks ago and is already showing a lot of promise with hundreds of individuals coming to create links or interact with them. So far, users have primarily used Sujjest Lunch to decide on casual restaurant locations.
# Next Steps
In the future, the creators of Sujjest see the power of providing curated recommendations and promotions for nearby restaurants based on a user’s past behavior. Not only would this further facilitate group decision- making, but inform the user about opportunities outside of their usual routines. The team is hopeful that Sujjest becomes a widely used and influential app. Currently, the team is looking for feedback on the ease of using and sharing Sujjest or Sujjest Lunch and if it solves the common issues around decision-making.
You can reach the Sujjest team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow them on Twitter @sujjestion