This British-made app helps users uncover new opportunities for cooperation with nearby professionals
Have you ever found yourself out at an airport waiting for your flight and despite every social norm started chatting with the person sitting next to you? Even stranger, that connection turned out to be genuine and actually useful for your business, right?
Good opportunities for networking happen can happen randomly, but we are generally so caught up in our own little bubbles that we barely take the time and effort to branch out a little bit.
Hoping to take some of the awkwardness out of this process of meeting new people is British entrepreneur James Eder, the founder and CEO of Causr.
The Causr app that he came up with, which is now available for iOS and Android, does the hard work of finding relevant people around you. After syncing up with your LinkedIn profile to get all your deets, it gives you a chance to let folks know what you are looking for. It could be that you are interested in a specific sector like fintech, or something closer to your heart like your favorite teams or beers, etc. Importantly, only your first name shows up publically, saving your full name for approved connections only.
Looking for a more specific kind of match? Join a group or post a status letting people know that you are available for a quick coffee, and start connecting with new folks.
Speaking with Geektime, Eder explains that the idea for the app evolved after a number of chance encounters and his realization that good things can happen when you are willing to be a little more open. Relating one of those instances, he tells of the time when he needed to speak to a specific person from a company. “I left the office, was standing on the train platform and happened to meet the exact person I needed to meet,” he says, explaining that, “I’d simply asked them if our train was coming soon, and it went from there.”
“These chance encounters made a real impact on my working life and it got me thinking about the other opportunities I must’ve missed over the years,” says Eder, noting that, “Whilst we’re more digitally connected as a society than ever before, people are often in similar locations but never end up meeting. We are here to create connections for people that would otherwise be missed, basically manufacturing serendipity.”
Eder feels that part of the problem is that people often “don’t feel like they have permission to start talking to someone they’ve never met before.” While perhaps less true of Israelis who will break into a conversation with anyone, this can definitely be an issue that hinders collaboration.
On a more structural level, there are barriers that we have around us in the technologies that we have grown accustomed to for networking. Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn provide great options for connecting with people that are already within your circles, but for some very good reasons are not set up for location-based meetups.
In its far more business orientated space, Causr seems to have a better fit for this purpose, with Eder telling Geektime that, “We’re often surrounded by more people we don’t know than we do. Causr aims to bridge this gap. Location is at the heart of Causr. By logging in using Linkedin we’re positioned in the professional space. We give people context of who is nearby to enable them to connect in real time face to face.”
Since launching on the App Store in September 2016, they have garnered over 2000 downloads from Europe, Australia, and China among other places. Eder believes that the people who benefit from his app the most at this point are freelancers and frequent travelers. When you are self employed, there is a real imperative to be constantly putting yourself out there and making connections for collaboration on projects as well as doing your own BizDev. For the far flung business traveler, Causr gives them the chance to make the most of their down time and make some valuable introductions.
The app remains free for the time being, with Eder saying that a pro version will come out later down the line. Luckily, he has already received support and a degree of validation for his idea, having picked up a £150,000 seed round back in April 2016 from four Angels: StreetCar co-founder Brett Akker, LOVEFiLM co-founder Simon Franks, strategic consultant Alexandra Singer, and Robin Alvarez who serves as Chairman and co-founder of Zero Start Ventures.
I must admit that I have mixed feelings about the fact that we as a species are having difficulty connecting face-to-face, seeing the act of starting a random conversation with another human being as a Herculean task. Then again my wife thinks that I’m weird for doing that, so go figure.
Eder and Causr appear to be answering a very important need in today’s business culture, helping its users to navigate their needs with social convention through technology. Apps like Tinder and even platforms like Facebook are proving that when used right, the connections that we make online can quickly turn into something far more productive offline where it really counts.
Moreover, from the looks of it, Causr should make finding new connections far more effective and efficient. Essentially greasing the gears of meeting someone who has an interest in meeting you and finding your common ground faster.
Networking is truly one of the most essential elements of any business, a fact that Eder seems to understand quite well.
“People do business with people,” he says to Geektime. “As I look back to when I founded my first company in 2005, a key theme that has enabled our success is the power of connecting with people. Behind every big brand it is the people who make decisions that can mean the difference between success and failure. On top of this is the networks that often define us and it’s the intersection where these all come together where the real magic happens.”