Calling all entrepreneurs, business professionals, and dream job seekers! If you haven't heard about it yet, Shapr is an app that uses an algorithm to create a carefully selected group of about 15 or so suggestions of people who are in the same industry for the user to choose to match with for the purpose of networking. Much like some popular dating apps, it is only determined as a true match if both parties agree to connect.
This app is taking the important and valuable relationships that can be gained on professional networking sites like LinkedIn to a completely new level. TheTalko recently had the opportunity to talk with Mandy Menaker, who is on the front line of Shapr's design and launch, to discuss what this app is all about and why we need it on our phones ASAP.
We hope that you find this exclusive interview as interesting as we did!
TheTalko (TT): Hi Mandy, thanks for chatting with us today! Can you explain to our readers what your involvement is with Shapr and how this exciting idea came about?
Mandy Menaker (MM): Shapr was started by five incredibly talented entrepreneurs all based in Paris, France. The team understood the value of a powerful professional network but felt that networking was time-consuming and unfocused for most individuals. They set out to solve that problem by creating a platform that makes networking seamless. The goal is for Shapr to be so simple that it becomes part of the everyday routine for millions of professionals around the globe.
I came on board as Head of PR and Brand Development in 2016 to help drive acquisition of the app in English-speaking markets. Since then, I have worked on incredible projects with Shapr, including writing the copy for a massive subway campaign we ran in January 2017, and launching Shapr Connectors Club, our offline event series in 2018. My favorite part of the job is meeting Shapr users face-to-face and learning about how Shapr has helped them learn to love networking!
TT: What makes Shapr better than other networking apps and sites like LinkedIn?
MM: LinkedIn is a powerful tool for keeping up with your existing contacts or running a recruiting search for a specific job title. However, the tool can be a bit superficial when trying to meet new contacts: accepting a connection generally does not translate into a conversation unless it is a sales pitch and the focus seems to be on quantity rather than quality of connection.
TT: Shapr’s goal is to start the conversation with someone new so that you actually foster a helpful and meaningful relationship. We use your current goals such as “exploring a career change” or “finding a cofounder,” your self-selected interests such as “marketing” or “cryptocurrency,” and your location to suggest professionals who share complementary goals. Swiping through each daily batch of suggestions takes less than two minutes, so you spend less time looking for the right connections and more time chatting with your matches over coffee or a Skype call.
TT: Where did the app’s name, Shapr, come from?
MM: You are shaped by every conversation you have. Even a one-time coffee can inspire you to try a new technique or help you expand your knowledge about a particular topic. We want Shapr to shape your goals, your progress, and your professional relationships.
TT: Is Shapr free for iOS as well as Android and is it available right now? If there is a free version, is there also a paid version and if so, can you please explain the differences?
MM: Shapr has free versions available for iOS, Android and Desktop. It is completely free to set up a profile, swipe your daily batch, and message with your matches! For those professionals hoping to enhance their networking experience, we offer premium features at a small cost, which include search filters, teleportation to other cities so you can set up meetings before you travel, and the ability to see everyone who swiped you right.
TT: What can users expect when first setting up their Shapr account? How much information is needed to get started?
MM: Setting up your profile should take less than three minutes. To get started, we require a photo, a bit of basic information such as your current job title, and a short bio. We also ask for you to select a few #interests that you may want to discuss with other members and up to three goals such as finding a new job, meeting investors, or making new friends in your industry.
TT: Who is the ideal Shapr user? Can someone who is currently working a job “just to pay the bills” use Shapr in order to network with others working in their ideal industry and perhaps obtain their dream job?
MM: Professionals in all industries and roles can benefit from meeting people on Shapr. The app can be equally beneficial for a professional on the hunt for a dream job, or for a happy professional just hoping to keep up with industry trends! We match people based on complementary goals and believe you can always find value in networking.
TT: We encourage users to be as helpful as possible - try to help a new connection by sharing a resource or offering an introduction after meeting. We are building an altruistic community of professionals who want to grow together.
MM: As we understand it, Shapr finds like-minded professionals in the same industry and matches them together with the goal of collaborating and powerful networking. Are the matches local or global as well for online or phone networking?
TT: Shapr is location-specific. In Discover Mode, our algorithm will make suggestions of the best nearby professionals, as we try to get our users face-to-face for coffee or tea as often as possible. However, professionals can also use the premium feature Teleport to relocate to another city if they know they will be traveling soon, are making remote hires, or want to meet people from a particular metro area!
TT: Do you have any Shapr success stories so far that you can share with us?
MM: There are so many success stories! We receive thousands of emails from users sharing that they found their dream jobs, raised startup capital, hired a team or landed clients through the app. On the business side, one of my favorite success stories is a London-based game designer who met one of the main people behind Candy Crush. That user became his mentor, and eventually led his fundraising round! Another of my favorite success stories is a user in Washington, D.C. who hit it off so well with her match on Shapr that she ended up becoming a bridesmaid in her matches’ wedding!
TT: Mandy, what is your personal favorite aspect of Shapr?
TT: I love that Shapr introduces people you wouldn’t meet organically, and emphasizes taking the conversation offline. Thanks to Shapr, I have some lifelong friends across the globe, one of whom just invited me to a small dinner party on Saturday, and another who I am meeting for our monthly high tea date next Thursday! Shapr has enabled me to personally meet people who fascinate, encourage and inspire me.
TT: What’s next for Shapr? Where do you expect Shapr to be in 5 years from now?
MM: Shapr already has 5,000 new professionals joining each day, and has helped over 2 million people to make meaningful connections. We are going to continue to grow and offer new features that raise Shapr’s visibility, and position Shapr as the leading app for professional networking.
Mandy, thank you so much for your time! We really appreciate hearing about Shapr from a first-hand point of view.
Readers, be sure to download Shapr for free to your phone or device to be able to start connecting with like-minded individuals who can help boost your career to the next level!