The popularity of dating apps like Tinder and Grindr have made the once-niche activity of online dating into a worldwide phenomenon, making the previously taboo apps not only household names, but industry innovators whether you buy in to that kind of thing or not. Shapr wants to be the Tinder of businesses, the modern-day networking app to get you in touch with like-minded industry individuals (sounds familiar), but is it worth the download?
If you’ve never heard of or used apps like Tinder, the idea is simple; Putting you in contact with similar people near your location, you are given the option to either swipe their profile to the left and ignore them, or to the right and attempt to connect with them. If you ‘match’ by both swiping right on each other’s profiles, you can talk to each other and go from there. Shapr evolves this process by connecting with your LinkedIn account and putting you in contact with buyers, suppliers and others worth getting in touch with or meeting for a coffee.
On paper, the app sounds ideal for PAs, decision-makers and others looking to for valuable business connections, but after encountering a few inconveniences, I decided to get chatting with anyone I matched with to find out their opinions on the app, discovering some very clear issues.
As with similar apps, Shapr enforces a daily limit for how many people you can connect with, and the number is shockingly low. Logging into the app and setting up an account, you’ll be given a selection of 20 similar people for you to match with if you think they’re relevant. After you’ve swiped left or right on all 20, you’re given a big timer ticking down from T minus 24 hours and counting, a massive amount of time for the app to basically brick itself and stop working, and most people I matched with expressed similar irritation.
“To be honest I don’t really know what to think about it,” said Private Travel Designer Lionel when I asked his opinion. “I don’t really like the fact that you have to wait hours or days until you can get in touch with people. It’s a good idea but I don’t really like it so far!”
Putting such a large time limit on when your next connections are available means that users are only going to check the app once a day at most before signing out, meaning that I found most people would take days (and in some cases weeks) to get back to a message. Without an incentive to get people back, the app lacks the real pulling power of its competitors. Increasing the frustration, if you wait a few days before returning to the app, you’ll still only have 20 contacts to meet, adding to the feeling that you aren’t rewarded for coming back at all. As Lionel wrote, “it’s a bit like LinkedIn but not so easy to use.”
“It has taken a bit of time but it has become invaluable,” wrote another user, Business Development Manager Robbie. “It’s great for business because it’s a slightly more informal way to meet people.”
When the app works and you manage to start a conversation with someone else, the app comes into its own. It’s the only one of its kind to offer such a direct line to potential business connections online, at least that I’ve come into contact with, and if it were to iron out the bugs it could prove invaluable to PAs. The problems arise because no users are regularly returning to the app, so it’s hard to maintain a conversation and although you can choose the kind of contacts you’d like to reach out to, you might not get what you’re looking for.
“I’m connecting to lots of prospects but people rarely message back,” said Cost Reduction Expert Nick. “The limit of 20 people a day is a bit naff and it would be good to choose what sort of people you want to meet. I had a gardener and a supermarket shelf stocker on my suggestions today!”
This app is the ideal online options for PAs wanting to grow their network and talk business in an informal and casual setting. The problem is that for all its promise, you can end up waiting for days for a relevant contact to appear in your suggestions and you could wait even longer just for a reply. Last Monday I sat patiently as the ticking clock reached zero, just to find the timer restart without a single match, so the real question to ask yourself is; is the perfect business match worth the wait?