Startup Hency - I don’t like it

Website Hency. © 2015 hency.com
Website Hency. © 2015 hency.com

Everyone likes startups. It’s the spirit of our time. If you want to be a real hipster, you need to be involved in or, if possible, the creative director of a startup. Then, you need to spread the word. The actual product seems to be unimportant.

I already wrote my opinion about the startups Viewsy and WikiStage. Today, I stumbled upon Hency and even though I like the initial idea, I find it so badly done that I felt a need to blog about this. The project is still very young (public beta), but this cannot be an excuse in my opinion. So let’s have a look.

Presentation of Hency

Hency's officially selected for the WebSummit Alpha program ! Meet us in Dublin from november 3 to 5 for the most exciting tech and startup event of the year ! ☺ A big thanks to our sponsor EMLYON Business School, thanks for your help, without you it couldn't be possible ! Also, thanks to Emlyon - Centrale Lyon Programme IDEA for your support ! ‪#‎Startup‬ ‪#‎DesignThinking‬ ‪#‎InsideIDEA‬ ‪#‎Innovation‬ ‪#‎Onourwaytothesummit‬

This is what I have found on my Facebook. The authors of this project prefer to stay incognito. I guess that Jimmy is somehow involved. Let’s try to decrypt some information from this post. EMLYON, a very prestigious elite university in France, Lyon, is the sponsor. Support was given as well from the IDEA program of the Centrale Lyon that is just another elite university. Most students of EMLYON pay in comparison to most European higher education programs enormous fees. So here, they got a a kind of refund.

The used hash tags are not very surprising and belong to the standard canon, to the pop culture of the students from this program. However, I’m always curious about innovation. So I eventually clicked on their website http://www.hency.com.

Disruptive Service, Decentralisation

The welcome page is rather minimalistic. They promise to invite you to the finest parties. So you are supposed to forget about nightclubs and bars. As such, this falls clearly in the category of disruptive web services like Uber, AirBnB, Couchsurfing, Blablarcar, etc.

I was not so sure what I should expect, but I clicked on the button “sure” nevertheless. The website asked me for my city of residence. Luckily, Lyon is in the list (which is so far rather short). Then, the site proposes to continue in French. I’m opposed, but the question is a rhetorical one. I have to accept.

Questionnaire

It is not unusual for websites to present localised versions, especially when local services are proposed. Tripadvisor also likes to know your place to offer its service. However, Hency is not satisfied yet and wants to know my name and my gender. I'm actually filling out a questionnaire. I don’t see the point to tell them my gender. In any case, everyone that is neither female or male will be discriminated (keyword: LGBTI). So better don’t ask!

Questionaire of Hency. © 2015 hency.com
Questionaire of Hency. © 2015 hency.com

The next question was eventually the reason to write this post. I was asked to fill out the place where I have studied. Let me explain you why this is a bad question:

  • You discriminate people that do not have studied. One doesn’t have to and it’s fine. I imagine, that the supposed authors from these French elite universities have rather limited contact with people outside of their scope and forget about this.
  • Imagine you go to a club and someone wants to know your university affiliation. I would consider this a bad thing. This is not so much better than asking for sexual orientation, race, religious beliefs.

Without entering anything, there are already some proposals. As far as I can say, this seems to me all private and elite universities. I would probably feel bad to just enter Lyon 1.

To make it short: The next questions concern my friends (probably to send them SPAM), my phone number and my mail address. In the end, I get told that I'm in the queue.

Privacy

So in the end, they wanted to know quite some personal data for me. I think I have the right to know who is running this platform and in which way my data is processed. Eventually, I would like to know how to delete my profile from this service. This turns out to be difficult. As there is no mail, no contact, nothing given on the website, one doesn’t know who to address.

This is actually illegal. EU (direction 2000/31/EG) and French (Loi n° 2004-575 du 21 juin 2004, Art 6 III LCEN) law require to give contact information and beta versions are not an exception.

Conclusion

The project is so far rather small. There is only one page. It has a cool interface. However, most questions seem to be wrong to me and there is not so much else. I have not seen their presentation, but on the basis of their current website, I find every grant or award to early. I have expected more from #innovation in 2015.

There are other problems that should be addressed from the very beginning:

  • What about safety requirements (emergency exits, exit marks) in the private locations?
  • What about licenses to run a club/bar or sell alcohol?
  • What about location insurances?

There are reasons why there is a regulation of the commercial clubbing sector. The advances in safety and comfort for the people living next door as well as the invitees should not be circumvented by a disruptive service.

Nota Bene: I wanted to blog about YoloResto, a project of students from the same universities, but haven’t found time so far. The last tweet that reports “standing ovation for the staff” is from November last year. That’s how it goes.