Shapr users can filter through 1.6 million profiles to find matches and set up professional relationships for networking
Before Tinder and Bumble, navigating the dating game was a daunting and tricky task for many people – but made far simpler and socially acceptable by simply swiping right. Shapr is effectively trying to do the same thing for networking.
“The reason people like dating apps is because they are easy, and get you meeting people that you wouldn’t interact with regularly,” says co-founder Ludovic Huraux.
“Shapr does the same thing for professional networking. We make it simple to interact with professionals who can help you in your career, who you wouldn’t meet in your daily work life.”
Available on iOS and Android devices, the Paris start-up claims to have set up 25 million professional relationships in the US, UK and France in the past two years.
Users can filter through the 1.6 million-strong network in a few swipes to find suitable profiles based on tagged interests, location, and professional experience.
Ludovic tells Compelo the story of Shapr.
What is Shapr?
When I built my first business, making the right contacts was incredibly difficult.
I was a first-time entrepreneur, and I had to spend a lot of time going to events and trying to make the right connections.
It should be much more simple to make meaningful connections with people who will become your mentors, collaborators and hires.
Using Shapr, you can meet a meaningful connection in minutes.
The app allows you to quickly share a few professional goals, such as finding investors or exploring a career change, and a few topics that interest you.
From there, Shapr’s algorithm will curate a daily batch of profiles of nearby professionals that fit your goals.
You can swipe right on those you’d like to meet, and will get notified when the interest to connect is mutual.
If you want more control over who shows up in your batch, you can also use Shapr’s premium features to search and filter your suggestions.
Beyond being an easy tool for professionals, I think Shapr is important because it is introducing networking as a daily habit.
We are building a community of professionals in a giving mindset, who understand the value of helping one another and spending time offline, meeting new people regularly.
When was the company set up and how has it grown since?
Shapr has five co-founders and started in 2015.
At the time we started the app, we were a super lean team, with less than ten people in total.
Since our initial launch, and later our quiet re-launch in 2016, we have grown tremendously.
We now have over 30 people in our Paris office, five people in our New York office, and one remote employee in Canada who was a user that loved the product so much that he asked to get involved in our team.
It appears that you’re obviously riding on the back of the dating app explosion of recent years. Why did you feel this concept could be translated into business networking?
The reason people like dating apps is because they are easy, and get you meeting people that you wouldn’t interact with regularly.
Shapr does the same thing for professional networking. We make it simple to interact with professionals who can help you in your career, who you wouldn’t meet in your daily work life.
Which features have you borrowed from dating apps and what have you added?
Similar to dating apps, the UX is very simple – you swipe right on the people you want to meet and left on those you prefer not to interact with that day.
We also use an algorithm to help find the best matches.
However, our algorithm is much more complex than that of a dating app, because of the number of things we evaluate.
We are taking a look at a professional’s location, current goals and interests (which may change regularly), seniority, industry, and past swiping behaviour to suggest people that may be beneficial to connect with, and that algorithm is not an easy thing to build.
We have full-time data scientists with PhDs helping to improve suggestions and continually diving into the science behind connections.
Who is a typical Shapr user and how would they have previously made business contacts?
Shapr attracts a range of professionals from a variety of industries.
Because we are able to cater suggestions based on a number of goals and interests, our user base includes CEOs, seasoned finance and marketing leaders, investors and more.
Typically, most users have attended a few events in the past, but found them to be overwhelming or not useful in their goals.
By contrast, we hear daily from our users that Shapr is the tool they needed, and have heard success stories from thousands of professionals.
How does your business make money and how do you plan to grow revenue?
Our biggest revenue stream is Shapr Pro, our suite of premium features.
We offer additional value to our users in exchange for a small subscription fee.
We are exploring other revenue steams that we hope to launch in the coming years.
Which countries are you in right now and why did you pick these locations?
Shapr can actually be found in several countries around the world, but our most popular so far are the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
We pick locations based on cities where we feel there is a large concentration of professionals who will benefit from using the app.
How much funding and investment has Shapr received to date?
Shapr has raised more than $20m (£15m), all through private investors.
What does the future hold for Shapr?
Shapr is positioned to become a global leader in the professional development space.
We are hoping to offer more than just networking through the platform in the coming years, and to become a valuable resource for professionals around the globe.