Foursquare is a great app for messing around with and letting friends know where you are and what's going on. That geo-spatial technology could be used for much more useful means, however. How about as a business networking tool for when you're at a conference or simply flying out from LAX and want to hook up with some like minded business people? That might sound a little like a form of dating app but networking is extremely important in all walks of business. Recently released app, CanWeNetwork, hopes to take out much of the stress of meeting up with folks.
The app works using a LinkedIn login to ensure that its users can find like minded people around them, whether they happen to be. Users can then introduce themselves through the app before physically meeting up. Using some quite impressive matching algorithms, the app finds matches according to skills, experience, interests, education, location and personality.
It's clever stuff and having used it, I can confidently say that it found some appropriate matches for me. I can only imagine how much more useful it would become in a large public arena. Besides being able to see where the person is located at the current time, it's very simple to connect via LinkedIn through the app.
We checked in with company evangelist James Sinclair to learn more about CanWeNetwork and plans going forward.
148apps: What was the inspiration behind making the app?
James Sinclair: The inspiration behind this technology is that there are so many people that cross our paths every day that could be so relevant, so helpful, that we are just a second – or a chance opportunity – away from meeting. Our founders are road warriors and hardcore data scientists who looked at this as a problem to solve. They believe the evolution that this market - of business intelligence between people - was a great opportunity to solve a real world problem in an underserved marketplace. It’s also an incredible journey of learning why people get on or why people work well together. This has been a big evolution of ideas, a few pivots, some hurdles and all the time building an engine first, a platform first as we identify the verticals and marketplaces for which it is viable.
How long did the matchmaking algorithm take to work out?
We spent nearly a year building our recommendation engine. It's at the heart of everything we do so it had to be amazing. Whilst a majority of users only care about the answer of "good" or "bad" match, and technically we could have shipped earlier with a less accurate or less complex engine, we are not trying to be a social network; we are trying to be a utility/tool and that requires delivering the right answer out the gate. We are a decision science company not an app company, and the real answer is we have not worked it out, it never stops, machine learning constantly trying to better itself, learn from the data, understand the reasoning and deliver strong results to our users. Usage drives intelligence.
148apps: Are there any plans to introduce other social network integration such as Facebook or Twitter?
James Sinclair: For us, we are thrilled to be part of the LinkedIn ecosystem. It is the largest, most robust and most intelligent business network on the planet and therefore makes it the first step on this journey for us. It is currently only one of the many data sets we pull, it just happens to be the only public one. We are actively looking at other networks, cross network integration and so forth, but we are very happy with the results we are currently getting that we are not racing to add more.
CanWeNetwork is available now for free. Why not let us know how you get on with finding appropriate matches?