With Shapr, your career and personal life aren’t mutually exclusive any longer.
Understandably, not everyone is a fan of the hit-and-run Tinder dating app. While Tinder promotes casual encounters, 33-year-old Ludovic Huraux set out to build a more meaningful career-focused networking app called Shapr. Think of Shapr as the “Tinder for Networking,” he says. How does it work? “You sign up with your LinkedIn or email address and then fill out details like your job description, company name and location. You add business hashtags like #startup, #datascience or #privateequity and personal interest hashtags like #tennis or #movies too. An algorithm uses that data to then match you with people of similar professional and personal interests,” says Huraux.
The reason that the app is gaining significant traction is because its built on the robust LinkedIn platform and has an interface that’s achingly simple like that of Tinder. Once you log in you can get started immediately by swiping through 15-20 profiles. In true Tinder-style, you swipe left to reject or swipe right to accept that profile. If the other connection also swipes right on your profile, it’s a match and the two of you can connect and facilitate a meeting offline too.
Shapr has already mopped up 100,000 users worldwide and developed a vibrant demographic base. “Eighty per cent of our users are between 25-45 years old. Seventy-five per cent of our users are in the US – mainly in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco – while the remaining are located in European cities like London and Paris. But we hope to soon breakthrough into markets like Dubai where there are many people who shift there to do business and who need to connect with others.” Shapr has already secured $7million in funding in the last few months.
This isn’t Huraux’s first entrepreneurial venture in the world of cyber matchmaking. Fresh out of business school a decade ago, Huraux, then 24, dabbled in private equity. Three years in, he decided to start his own technology-based venture, and at 27 he founded French premium dating app called Attractive World. “I raised more than $6 million dollars initially through private investors for Attractive World. The venture quickly turned profitable and was among the top three dating apps in France.”
The one thing that Attractive World didn’t manage to do was to break out of France. While massively popular in the country, it couldn’t scale beyond its borders. A little over a month ago, Huraux sold Attractive World to a German company that has plans to roll it out across the world.
Huraux credits his success as a young entrepreneur to his curiosity and interest in meeting new people. He said, “I thought about the kind of impact I wanted to have with my next venture. Ever since I became an entrepreneur in my early twenties, I tried to meet one new person every week and I understood how important it is to meet with someone new where you can learn so much from these encounters. That’s why I wanted to create Shapr because it isn’t easy to meet the right people in your career and personal life,” says Huraux.
From the very outset, Huraux has planned to go international with Shapr – something that he hadn’t done with Attractive World. He simultaneously launched Shapr in France and the US two years ago, and is now rapidly expanding into other markets. He says, “The near-term plan for Shapr over the next 12 months is to communicate more aggressively in the US market and to also expand in Asia, South America and the Middle East. We are all set to raise another round of funding in the first half of next year.” He added, “The long-term mission of Shapr is for people to shape their network – to meet people that will inspire them.” So did Huraux find himself a match via his dating or networking app? He breaks out into a chuckle. “I met my girlfriend at a conference where I was a speaker. I didn’t meet her online,” he admits.