Meet Neil Tanna, CEO and Co-Founder at Social Planning App: Howbout

Organising plans sucks. It’s a hassle and frustrating trying to find a date everyone’s free, agree what the plan is and keep on top of all the details. Life’s busy and the pain of planning is enough to put off trying – leading to loneliness and isolation (especially now that everyone is back to being busy post-lockdowns).

Howbout modernises and socialises an outdated, single-player tool: the personal calendar. Our mission is to help friends go from ‘planning’ to ‘plan made’ as quickly as possible. It combines the informality of a group chat with the practicality of modern planning features and takes all the pain out of getting friends together. A group can instantly find when they’re all free, easily organise any plan and quickly manage everything they’ve got going on.

We’re a year old and are close to 100,000 downloads, have helped people organise 400,000 plans (on track for 1 million by the end of the year!), received backing from Claire Valoti (VP International, Snapchat) and been featured 4x by Apple.
 
 

 

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

 
I had the idea back in 2015 after I graduated and found that it was suddenly much harder to organise plans with friends. Life, people and calendars all got busier and “See you on Saturday” was replaced with “See you when I see you”. The idea was to help friends find a time they were all free automatically and organise plans (without the tedious WhatsApp back and forth).

To be honest, fear held me back from pursuing the idea. I was focused on a career as a lawyer at the time and fear of failure held me back from jumping in. In 2018, my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer which changed my perspective entirely. I spent the next 10 months in hospital with her and during that period she made me promise that I’d pursue the idea. A month after she passed away in March 2019, the company was incorporated.
 

 

How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

 
We fully launched the app to the public in August 2020 – right after the 1st lockdown and a couple of months before the 2nd (and then 3rd!) one. It was definitely an interesting / stressful moment to launch a social planning app – at a time when restrictions were constantly flipping between socialising with friends being encouraged to being illegal!

Naturally, one of the biggest impacts the pandemic has had on people’s lives is how it affects socialising with friends and family. We pivoted fast into virtual plans (by launching one-tap integrations with Zoom, Houseparty and other video calling platforms) and launched a campaign around the importance of staying social with friends at a time when it was incredibly easy to feel lonely and isolated.

We helped people organise over 120,000 plans during the lockdowns – from 1:1 walks and socially distanced picnics to virtual pub quizzes and online group workouts.
 

What can we hope to see from Howbout in the future?

 
Our mission is to build the easiest way to get friends together. No matter whether it’s for a quick beer with a couple of friends or a big ski trip with a group of 20+, we want Howbout to be the go-to social planning app for friends, groups and communities.

One of the great things about the problem we’re solving is it’s not limited by language, age, location or wealth. Trying to get friends together sucks no matter if you speak Italian or Hindi, are 18 or 40, live in the UK or Argentina or are rich or poor. At the moment, even though we haven’t spent anything on marketing outside of the UK, we have users in over 100 countries. Our vision is for Howbout to be the go-to social planning app globally.