PeopleHunt: What Do You Do If The Gatekeeper Doesn’t Feel Your Customer’s Pain?

PeopleHuntAt 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:

  1. Reduce the time/effort required from the gatekeeper
  2. Increase the benefits to the gatekeeper
  3. Bypass the gatekeeper
  4. 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.

Twitter: @peoplehuntme

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About Andrew Ackerman

Andrew is recovering consultant turned serial entrepreneur, startup mentor and angel investor. He is the Managing Director at Dreamit, currently in charge of the UrbanTech accelerator program. Andrew has also written for Fortune, Forbes, Propmodo, CREtech, Builders Online, Architech Magazine, Multifamily Executive, AlleyWatch, Edsurge, The 74 Million, et. al. Andrew began his career at Booz & Co consulting on strategy and operations for Fortune 100 clients. After a brief stint at Kaplan helping transition their traditional classroom test prep services into online products, he then joined as COO/Head of Product where he spent eight years building it from scratch to the leading provider of web services to the summer camp industry. After being bought out of Bunk1 in 2008, Andrew managed a family office where he was responsible for both incubating new ventures and for managing over $50M of alternative assets including hedge, private equity, and venture capital funds as well as a number of direct investments in private companies. Andrew was also the founding CEO of and has a keen appreciation for how hard it is to build a successful startup, even under the best of circumstances. Andrew received his MBA in Operations & Marketing from Chicago Booth (Beta Gamma Sigma) and a BA in Economics & Political Science from Johns Hopkins University (Phi Beta Kappa). He speaks Hebrew fluently as well as some Spanish, French & Japanese and is working on JavaScript.

One response to “PeopleHunt: What Do You Do If The Gatekeeper Doesn’t Feel Your Customer’s Pain?”

  1. Ellen Dudley (@meetforeal) says :

    Great summary Andrew! Useful to have going forward.

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