PeopleHunt: What Do You Do If The Gatekeeper Doesn’t Feel Your Customer’s Pain?
At end of the day, there’s no substitute for getting out of your office and meeting people face to face. Conferences, mixers, pitch event, et. al. are all great ways to expand your network but they can be pretty hit-or-miss. You generally only have time to talk to a few people. Bad luck and a handful of long-winded duds can completely kill your evening.
So when I was contacted by Adrian Avendano Monterrubio (@amonter5), co-founder & CEO of PeopleHunt, I was interested in learning more. Their approach is simple in concept: while at an event, you sign into PeopleHunt, join that event, answer a few questions, and they will direct you to someone else at the event who shares your interests. The execution is pretty clean and well thought out. For instance, when the app finds a possible match for you, it pings him and he has 30 seconds to accept. If he ignores or rejects the match, the app moves on to the next possible match on its list.
Clearly, this app will ultimately live or die based on the quality of the matches it makes but before it even gets that chance, there’s a bigger challenge: getting the word out.
In theory, you could use this app anywhere. Waiting on line to get into a movie premier? Set up a quick “event” and see who you meet. But until they have pretty deep penetration, odds are that you would find few, if any, matches at an ad hoc event like that. The PeopleHunt team is smart enough not to roll out with a user experience that is bound to disappoint.
Instead, they are starting with conference and event planners. The planners can tailor the PeopleHunt app to a specific event and announce its availability to their attendees. Planners are a bit of a tough sell, though. They are extremely busy with mission-critical tasks on the days immediately prior to the event. A nice-to-have app is far down their priority list.
There are four ways to handle a situation like this:
- Reduce the time/effort required from the gatekeeper
- Increase the benefits to the gatekeeper
- Bypass the gatekeeper
- Give up and try a different distribution model
We brainstormed for a bit and came up with a few possible solutions from column 1 (e.g., they could set up the event questions for the planners), some from column 2 (e.g., improve and stress the value of the who-met-who data; get more exposure for the event by including the event hashtag in the default text for tweets about who you met), and at least one somewhat edgy idea from column 3 (e.g., scrape event and attendee data from Eventbrite, Meetup, TicketLeap, et. al., set up the events in PeopleHunt, and alert the attendees – all without the organizer’s involvement). I am sure they will come up with several more on their own and, when they have some data on what works and what does not, we’ll meet again.
Like all good entrepreneurs, they asked if I knew anyone who was interested in investing. My advice to them was to wait. They are targeting a real pain point but unless they have data to show that they can monetize their users sufficiently to cover a high user acquisition spend (in this case, promoting to event planners), they need to solve the gatekeeper problem first.