Innovation Spotlight: VentureApp makes Connecting with Professionals Easy
This is the ninth article for the Innovation Spotlight series for the DCD Blog, where we interview some of the newest and most creative companies popping up in the Boston area. If you would like to be featured in our series, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interviewee: Katie Sullivan, Director of Communications
The last time we talked about LinkedIn, it was when Microsoft acquired it. Since then, LinkedIn hasn’t changed all that much, but then, I never really used LinkedIn all that much in the first place. I still don’t get much use out of it; it just sort of exists for professional purposes and promoting blog posts. Mostly, I just collect emails from recruiters looking to hire and the occasional request to connect. Rhiannon, our Marketing Director, uses it far more frequently as she razzles and dazzles at networking events, but we both still feel the experience leaves something to be desired.
One of the places where LinkedIn really falls short is that, while it’s a great way to keep track of the various business contacts you might make at a networking event, unless you pay to become a premium member, that’s really all you can do with it. It’s basically a modern day rolodex of resumes, masquerading as a social networking site.
While every company needs a source of income, LinkedIn’s pay to play business model discourages interaction and takes away some of the usability that LinkedIn could potentially have. As it turns out, many users aren’t really interested in spending money just to get in contact with someone.
Enter VentureApp, whose marketing pitch includes the phrase, “Tired of receiving spam on LinkedIn?”
Boy, am I ever.
So how does VentureApp get rid of LinkedIn spam? Well, it doesn’t, exactly, but it is an alternative chat and social networking site that provides some of the same functionality as LinkedIn, plus a lot of extra, different tools that it helps will help professionals engage with one another.
To begin with, VentureApp flips LinkedIn’s business model on its head by following a Freemium business model. This means that, like Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm, VentureApp is free to use, but users can buy upgrades to their account in order to make their businesses more appealing for other users to reach out to. By enhancing their presence on the platform, users are able to increase visibility and brand awareness.
Katie Sullivan, Director of Communications at VentureApp
VentureApp hopes to complement the influx of emails to your inbox with chat and instant messaging options. Why?
“People like chat these days,” says Katie Sullivan, Director of Communications at VentureApp, “it’s a really useful, direct way to communicate with people. It helps professionals keep in touch more easily, and business gets done faster, because you can have quick back and forth conversations rather than long email messages that might get left unread for days.”
The founders at VentureApp believe strongly that networking and chat go hand in hand. Because interactions on VentureApp often take place in real time, Sullivan feels that this kind of environment makes it easier to establish and grow invaluable connections.
This is, ultimately, VentureApp’s big mission: to make the innovation economy more accessible and easier to navigate. They’re focused on helping professionals get business done more quickly, which helps companies grow and lets them reach out to their most valuable contacts, while also increasing the size of their professional circles. It’s VentureApp’s belief that the more access a community has to the resources they need, the more successful they will be. That’s why they’re working hard to create new ways for business professionals to collaborate, refer, and connect to each other.
Sullivan feels that this is the primary reason VentureApp is so keen on diving headfirst into the Innovation community. She says that although there are the unicorns and funding sweethearts who get plenty of media buzz, there are many more companies out there that are still doing great things to be discovered.
One way VentureApp enables these smaller start-ups to get in touch with experts is through their Office Hours program. Every week, they schedule hour blocks for industry professionals to chat with users about their work and stories, and to answer questions on their area of expertise. So far, their guest experts have included Diane Hessan and Mike Troiano, as well as many other great professionals in these fields. (Shameless plug: Rhiannon will have a spot in the hot seat on June 5th, so make sure to get an account by then!) The cool thing about this model, for me, is that it takes the idea of an AMA, where people ask questions publicly, and instead provides a one-on-one opportunity where you can ask all your questions and get real answers in private.
You see, Sullivan and the team want VentureApp to be seen as more than a platform for pitching services and making sales. While VentureApp can help the direct selling process by enabling users to have real, candid conversations, they really want VentureApp to open up the Innovation community and give everyone access to new connections.
“I think it’s been really helpful for anyone who wants to talk to someone in their field,” Sullivan says, “Conversations with people outside your company can open up your mind and give you new perspective. We want people to collaborate cross platform and industry and company size. Opening up these channels gives more opportunity to more people.”
For mobile users curious about what the app looks like, this is VentureApp’s contact page
We’re super on board with this idea here at Deep Core Data. We market ourselves as “Human-focused IT,” and the best way to focus on humans and their needs is, well… to talk with them! We believe that making connections and helping people find solutions to their problems is more important than making a sale, and using VentureApp is one of the best ways we’ve found so far to do that.
If you’re interested in trying out VentureApp for yourself, let us know. We’d be glad to set you up.