You Can Send a Treat to Anyone in the World Using This App
With new social distancing regulations and safety precautions in place in 2020, it was important to find new ways to socialize and feel close. One way people were able to do this was by using KOYA, an app that connects friends and family in innovative ways. We caught up with Courtney Ruth, one of the company’s co-founders, to learn more about her inspiration for KOYA and how it works.
“I grew up in an innovative household,” Ruth tells CircleAround. “My dad has several patents to his name and started his first company at our kitchen table. This impacted me so much that I started several small businesses at a young age. I am fortunate to have grown up believing that ‘entrepreneur’ was a normal job title.”
Ruth has worked as a ghostwriter for an interior designer, an SEO specialist for an orthodontist, a social media manager for various clients, a website designer for several small businesses, and she has even created ads for a local parade in her community. These things helped her grow her marketing skills and, eventually, she began working for KOYA Innovations, based in Austin, Texas.
According to Ruth, the KOYA app empowers meaningful connections between friends and family. “One of the key features of our app includes geo-location,” she explains. “This feature enables users to send KOYAs, which are surprise messages and/or gifts, to specified locations.”
For example, if your friend lives in New York City and you know they love a specific cafe, they will receive a notification from KOYA that there is a surprise waiting for them when they are nearby. KOYA allows users to spontaneously send a friend a video or text message, and even a gift card, so they can treat themselves to something special — a way for you to show them you are thinking of them.
KOYA can be used by anyone, but the largest demographic of users are couples in long-distance relationships. According to Ruth, KOYA helps keep the loneliness at bay by allowing users to create messages that are sent based on the recipient’s time zone. You can even use the app to create great virtual “date nights.” Their blog hosts numerous stories of couples using KOYA every day to feel more connected and grow together.
While the app launched in 2019, it has been much-needed during COVID-19. Ruth and her team are seeing the app being used by managers of remote teams, families living apart, best friends who live in different states, empty-nesters, and even real-estate agents looking for that extra special touch for clients.
One of Ruth’s most exciting moments at her company was getting to launch KOYA globally. “Once KOYA was released on Android and iOS, it was incredible to receive my first KOYA from a friend! I will never forget this moment because it was the moment I understood that what we had worked hard to create actually worked. At that moment, I felt exactly how I hoped others would feel upon discovering a KOYA.”
Ruth and her team are currently working on making KOYA more accessible, translating their mobile-based program to a web version of the app. They are also adding additional features to streamline the process of sending KOYAs to friends and family, like connecting PayPal accounts.
“Our users have sent KOYAs to the Eiffel Tower, coffee shops, airports, neighborhoods, and even park benches,” says Ruth. “When the KOYA is discovered, the audio or video message is unlocked. The biggest reward is creating a product that sparks moments of joy. I love hearing how people use KOYA with loved ones both near and far.”