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Tim Allison of Plane, Copenhagen

20 February 2016

Words: Andrew Birbeck / Images: Sarah Coghill

Plane CEO Tim Allison wants to change the way we interact with each other abroad. He doesn’t like the term ex-pat either. “To be honest, it’s not relevant any more,” he says. “And it tends to conjure up the wrong image, too.” He has a point for sure. And as for the swiping/selfie generation he believes too that we’ve hit overload.

“There’s always a time for change and maybe it’s now,” he explains. “Here at Plane we really believe there’s space for something new. I think there’s been a backlash to filtered images and pictures of what people are having for lunch. Technology is available that can rival, if not replace that sort of online interaction. Make it more real. More personal. All while making life better for people. Surely that’s what it’s all about?” It’s a convincing line of thought for sure.

Firmly believing no life experience is lost, Allison references Steve Jobs’ famous Stanford speech when he spoke of ‘connecting the dots’. Even getting fired turned out to be a positive. In 2009, just when it seems Allison had found his particular niche at a creative agency in the North-East of England, the global financial crisis hit hard and he was let go. Such things can be catastrophic for some, but Allison felt excited about the possibilities that lay ahead.

“It was the nudge, or kick, I needed to take the plunge and start my own business.” Not long after he set up DarlingDash, an app development company which initially created games for iPad. In time Cupple, a private sharing app specifically for two people in a relationship, was launched. Great press followed, including The Wall Street Journal and, around 15 months later, the product was sold to a Silicon Valley competitor.

“I can safely say that was the point when I really got the start-up-bug,” says Allison.

So what inspired Plane and how does it work? Not long ago, Allison ended up spending long periods in Switzerland away from his adopted home in Copenhagen and Danish partner Tine. It’s a story many will relate too. The global workforce is increasingly fluid and, as such, a sense of isolation can be a real issue.

“One evening I was sitting in my apartment by the Rhine in Basel. It was really sunny and people were swimming, having picnics, hanging-out with each other. It struck me, why can’t I connect with some of those people?” In such moments great ideas are born.

“There are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, across the globe who find themselves in the same position I was in. What occurred to me was an ice-breaking app, a way to connect and make initial contact with like-minded people.” From that point on the creative wheels started to turn. In close collaboration with business partner and Plane CTO Thomas Jacobsen the app took shape.

“It’s not a dating app, like Tinder for example,” Allison says. “Nor is it social media as currently understood. Plane works in a very different way; a totally new concept. The system uses signals as opposed to initial direct communication, and it’s only when the ice is broken that virtual cards are swapped. It’s about the potential to hook up with those in the vicinity who share common interests and lifestyles.”

Plane was soft-launched in Scandinavia a couple of months ago and feedback from users has been incredibly positive. Over coming months further launches are scheduled including the UK, USA and UAE.

“Each region presents its own challenges. Of course users in Copenhagen may have different experiences and expectations to those in San Francisco, or Dubai, for example.” Currently available free on IOS, Plane will be rolled out across all mobile devices in due course. When asked why try Plane, Allison sums it up by saying, ‘Because it’s not a lonely planet.’

tryplane.com

Local Knowledge

Best spot in Copenhagen to catch a game of football and grab a beer is…
The Globe in Norreoport – all the football you could desire and serves a great chili, too.

To grab some real Danish food head to…
Myers Delli, it offers a tasty spin on traditional Danish dishes.

My top Copenhagen must-see is…
Kongens Have, the city’s oldest park. In the summer it truly is a sight to behold.

One thing a first time visitor to the city should do is…
Hire a bike.

The best advice I can give is…
Don’t get lost down the rabbit hole.

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