Domain: Professional Networking
When: Q1-2 2021, for 6 months
Team skillset: Two founders, one with R&D background and one former founder with business background (McKinsey, investor, advisor to startups)
Creating a more efficient way to do professional networking
- People search for professional intros very inefficiently. In reality, most of us have a much larger network that we effectively use.
- People don’t have the time to organize their own network, but if they had a smart, automated way of doing it, they would get a lot more out of it. The idea was to encourage users to connect their emails, to automatically pull their network information.
- The initial target audience was entrepreneurs, since they have a very strong need for networking, and the idea was to expand from there.
Why it didn’t progress
Time: Getting to an initial signal of success (go/no go) in a B2C startup based on a Network Effect requires a lot of time time, and many startups under estimate how long it will take.
Consumer trust: there were concerns post MVP that users have a hard time/a trust issue giving access to their email and calendar .
- Inefficient networking is a real problem that has not yet been solved.
- If you want to create a solution, it has to be on a level playing field of interest (ie, both sides have an equal interest in the connection. Recruiting is an example of a non-equal interest, where one side has more interest than the other.)
- People don’t have patience to search, so the product needs to have very smart filtering capabilities. NLP capabilities might make this easier.
- There needs to be a mechanism to ‘pull’ people in, like new content. People would get the emails but not go into the product because there was nothing new for them.
- In retrospect, I would not have done a mailing list format, since people don’t want to be dealing with emails.
- In-depth conversations with people to understand what they do to get intros to people they want to meet. Then built an initial product and shadowed people while they used it.
What the MVP Included
- Mailing list website and engine.
- An email that said what connections your connections were looking for, and what their connections were looking for, including a referral fee.
- The creation of two circles: who you trust, who your connections trust.
- When the user logged in/connected, they could add contacts to their circle, and whoever connected got an email “Racheli Vouched for you”.
- Connection to calendar created list of people you may know.
- Connection made via Google since LinkedIn and WhatsApp were blocked.