Thursday, February 12, 2015

Buddies in Touch: Personal Social CRM Start Up

Horace Chan for Horace's Thinking writes: Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Seattle Start Up Weekend and work with an amazing group of people from all over the west coast. The idea that our team tried to tackle was Buddies in Touch – your personal, social CRM. We did not end up continuing the project, so I thought I would share the ideas here and see if there is more interest in the idea.
BiT Logo
What is it?
Buddies in Touch is designed to be your social CRM. What CRM is to sales or marketing people keeping track of sales leads and campaigns, Buddies in Touch is to general consumers keeping track of their friendships in a personal manner (i.e. not professional).This solution aims to maintain friendships that matter and cultivate the ones that should. The need we saw was with friends losing contact with each other once they moved away from each other, found new jobs, etc, and the reason for the growing distance is not due to a lack of interest in maintaining it, per se, but many times due to “laziness” or simply not contact each other enough over the years due to forgetting or not knowing what to talk about. We all want great friends, but we don’t necessarily act as the best friends ourselves. This app aims to change that.
What does it do?
With Buddies in Touch, we envisioned an experience where a user would be able to keep track of the relationships that matter to them. A user would log in with their Facebook credentials, and from there, they would be welcomed with a stack of cards, similar to Tinder, where they would swipe right or swipe left on which relationships the user cares about maintaining. Each relationship would include a rating to show the user how strong the relationship between the two are. When navigating into a specific relationship’s card, the user would see some highly relevant data
  • “Total Recall” – Perhaps the simplest yet most useful feature is what we called “Total Recall”. This feature is simply a section on each contact card where the user can input the relevant information from their last interaction with each other. The goal of this section is to help the user and contact re-connect the next time as if they were picking up right where they left off.
  • Tags – Custom tags would allow the user to easily filter and create “playlists” for their friends.
  • Reminders – Set reminders to keep you organized with reaching back out to friends.
  • Last Communication – See when you last communicated with the contact.
  • Latest Status Update – Pulls the latest status update from Facebook to give you relevant context when you view the contact.
  • Shared Interests – Pulls the shared interests from Facebook as a reminder of what you both like.
Who would use this?
Young professionals – students that have just graduated and moved out all over the world that want to keep in contact with their old friends
Ex-pats – keeping in contact with friends from their old country and who they do not get to see very often
Why does it matter?
Maintaining meaningful relationships. That was our tag line throughout the weekend, and I think it holds true to why something like Buddies in Touch matters in our modern world. With the rise of Facebook and Twitter and all these other social media phenomena, people have become generally more superficial, more prone to quick satisfaction than longer term happiness. This may be an over generalization, but I have seen it in myself and my friend circles. With that being said, our theory was that although the trends show people moving towards superficial, quick communications, people are still searching for the long term, meaningful connections. This not only helps promote longer term happiness, but in the end, these connections are lifelong relationships that can help people with their career and their lives in general. If a person has 10-15 strong connections today, Buddies in Touch would help increase that to 30-40 strong connections all of the same “relationship quality”.
What are the pitfalls?
From what I saw and worked on that weekend, we still had one main problem: user validation. Although we talked to many people that weekend, the sample size was way too small (perhaps 100 people). From that, it was very difficult to ascertain if this is actually a useful product that people would want. It seemed that the particular target audience called out may find it useful, but we still do not have a good idea on what particular features would be most useful to either group.
I may update this post later on as I have more time, but this was the general gist of what we worked on and our thought process.
Personally, I really wish I had something like this back in college and even today. I am not very good at keeping in touch with my friends (read: terrible at keeping in touch), so having a system to keep me up to date with who I should talk to and when would be very helpful. I have become distant with friends that I wish I could have kept stronger ties with, and I would hope there is an easier solution to keeping track.
Here’s to hoping our team can keep in touch for a long time after the weekend! :)

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