Should you’re spent any time on TikTok these days, you then’ve in all probability seen numerous Popl’s advertisements. The startup has been efficiently leveraging social media to get its modern-day enterprise card different in entrance a wider viewers. Packaged as both a telephone sticker, keychain or wristband, Popl makes use of NFC know-how to make sharing contact data as straightforward as utilizing Apple Pay. Up to now, Popl has bought someplace over 700,000 models and has generated $2.7 million in gross sales for its digital enterprise card know-how.
Popl co-founder and CEO Jason Alvarez-Cohen, a UCLA grad with a background in pc science, first realized the potential for NFC enterprise playing cards via a unique use case — a tool he encountered in somebody’s dwelling whereas attending a celebration. However it sparked the concept to make use of NFC know-how for sharing data person-to-person, which might be sooner than options, like AirDrop or guide entry. And so, Popl was born.
Although startup historical past is plagued by would-be “enterprise card killers” that ultimately died, what makes Popl completely different from early contenders is that it combines each an app with a bodily product — the Popl accent. This accent will be bought in a wide range of type components, together with the favored Popl telephone sticker that you may apply proper to the again of your telephone case (and even the highest of your Popsocket), and customised with a photograph of your selecting.
“I knew that, prior to now, folks would faucet telephones and share data like that. However I discovered shortly that you may’t do that simply phone-to-phone with pure software program,” says Alvarez-Cohen. “So I used to be like, what’s the closest means we will get the telephone tapping? And that’s how I got here up with this back-of-the-phone product.”
Every Popl accent is definitely an NFC tag which permits the handoff of the consumer’s contact data. When the telephones are shut, the recipient will get a notification that alerts them to your shared Popl information.
There are, after all, different methods to shortly change contact data. You may simply enter in somebody’s digits into your telephone’s contacts app immediately, for instance, which can work higher for extra informal encounters — like assembly somebody at a bar. However Popl allows you to share a full enterprise playing cards’ price of contact information with only a faucet, which makes it higher for skilled encounters, or some other time you wish to share extra than simply your telephone quantity.
Whereas the Popl tags make for a pleasant gimmick, the Popl cell app is what makes the general service helpful. And to be clear, the app is simply crucial for the Popl’s proprietor — the recipient doesn’t want the app put in for Popl to work. They’ll, nevertheless, must have a telephone that may learn NFC tags, which might miss some older gadgets. Or, as a backup, they’ll want capability to scan the QR code the app offers as a workaround.
Within the Popl app, you possibly can customise which information you wish to share with others — together with your contact data, social profiles, web site hyperlinks, and many others. — all through an easy-to-use interface. Like some enterprise card apps prior to now, you possibly can flip in between a private profile and a enterprise profile in Popl in an effort to share the suitable data when out networking. To really make the change of contact data with one other particular person, you merely maintain up your telephone to theirs and so they’ll get a notification directing them to your Popl profile webpage. (The telephones don’t must bodily contact or bump collectively, nevertheless. It’s extra like Apple Pay, the place they must be close to one another.)
From the Popl web site that’s shared through the notification that pops up, the recipient can faucet on the varied choices to attach with the sender — for instance, including them on a social community like LinkedIn or Instagram, grabbing their telephone quantity to ship a fast textual content, and even downloading a full contact card to their telephone’s deal with e book, amongst different issues.
The app’s extra intelligent characteristic, nevertheless, is one thing Popl calls “Direct.”
This patented characteristic received’t ship over the Popl web site the place the recipient then has to decide on how they wish to join. As an alternative, it opens up the vacation spot app immediately. For instance, if in case you have LinkedIn Direct on, the recipient can be taken on to your profile on LinkedIn once they faucet the notification. Or in case you put your Contact Card on Direct, it’s going to simply pop your deal with e book entry onto the display so the consumer can select to put it aside to their telephone.
For paid customers, the app additionally allows you to monitor your historical past of Popl connections on a map, so you possibly can recall who you met, the place and when, together with different analytics.
Work on Popl, which is co-founded by Alvarez-Cohen’s UCLA roommate, Nick Eischens, now Popl COO, started in late 2019. The startup then launched in February 2020 — simply earlier than the coronavirus lockdowns within the U.S. That might have been a disastrous time for a enterprise designed to assist folks change data throughout in-person conferences when the world was now shifting to Zoom and distant work. However Alvarez-Cohen says they marketed Popl as a “contactless resolution.”
“If I’ve this, and I’ve to fulfill somebody for my enterprise, I don’t even must faucet it — you possibly can simply hover, and it’ll nonetheless ship that data,” Alvarez-Cohen says. “So I’m capable of share my enterprise card with you with out handing you a enterprise card, which is form of secure.”
However what actually helped to promote Popl had been its video demos. One TikTok advert, which I’m positive you’ve seen in case you use TikTok in any respect, options the co-founders’ pal Arev sharing her TikTok profile with a brand new pal simply as she’s leaving the fitness center.
Within the video, the recipient — clearly dumbfounded by the know-how after she faucets his telephone — responds “what? what? Whoa! What? How’d you try this?!”
It’s now been considered over 80 million occasions.
Immediately, Popl’s TikTok movies get excessive tens of 1000’s, tons of of 1000’s, and typically nonetheless tens of millions of views per video. The corporate additionally has an energetic presence on different social media. As an example, Popl posts repeatedly to Instagram the place it has over 100Ok followers. Immediately, the startup’s progress now’s about 60% pushed by Fb and Instagram advertising and marketing and 40% natural, Alvarez-Cohen says.
Now, the corporate is getting ready new merchandise for the post-pandemic period when in-person occasions return. Although it had earlier than bought Popl’s in bulk for this function, it’s now readying an “occasion bracelet” that simply slips in your wrist (and is reusable). The bracelet might be used at any huge occasion — like music festivals or enterprise conferences, the place you’re assembly a variety of new folks. And since Popl makes use of NFC, telephones must be near make the contact data change — it received’t simply randomly share your data with everybody you cross by them.
Popl can be fleshing out the enterprise networking aspect of its app with integrations for Salesforce, Oracle and Hubspot, and CSV export, that include its Popl Professional subscription ($four.99 monthly). The in-app subscription is already at $320,000 in annual recurring income and rising 10% each week, as of early April.
A Y Combinator Winter 2021 participant, Popl is backed by Twitch co-founder Justin Kan (through Goat Capital), YC, City Innovation Fund, Cathexis Ventures, and others angels together with Want.com CEO Peter Szulczewski and Plangrid co-founder Ralph Gootee.
The app is on the market on iOS and Android, and the Popl equipment are bought on its web site and on Goal.com.