If you’ve spent any time on TikTook these days, then you definitely’ve most likely seen various Popl’s advertisements. The startup has been efficiently leveraging social media to get its modern-day business card various in entrance of a wider viewers. Packaged as both a telephone sticker, keychain or wristband, Popl makes use of NFC technology to make sharing contact info as straightforward as utilizing Apple Pay. To date, Popl has offered someplace over 700,000 models and has generated $2.7 million in sales for its digital business card technology.
Popl co-founder and CEO Jason Alvarez-Cohen, a UCLA grad with a background in laptop science, first realized the potential for NFC business cards via a unique use case — a tool he encountered in somebody’s residence whereas attending a celebration. But it sparked the concept to make use of NFC technology for sharing info person-to-person, which might be quicker than alternate options, like AirDrop or handbook entry. And so, Popl was born.
Though startup historical past is affected by would-be “business card killers” that finally 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 might be bought in quite a lot of type elements, together with the favored Popl telephone sticker that you possibly can 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, in the past, people would tap phones and share information like that. But I learned quickly that you can’t do this just phone-to-phone with pure software,” says Alvarez-Cohen. “So I [wondered to myself], what’s the closest way we can get the phone tapping? And that’s how I came up with this back-of-the-phone product.”
Each Popl accent is definitely an NFC tag which allows the handoff of the person’s contact info. When the telephones are shut, the recipient will get a notification that alerts them to your shared Popl knowledge.
There are, after all, different methods to rapidly alternate contact info. You can simply enter in somebody’s digits into your telephone’s contacts app straight, for instance, which can work higher for extra informal encounters — like assembly somebody at a bar. But Popl enables you to share a full business cards’ price of contact knowledge with only a faucet, which makes it higher for skilled encounters, or every other time you wish to share extra than simply your telephone quantity.
While 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 solely essential for the Popl’s proprietor — the recipient doesn’t want the app put in for Popl to work. They will, nevertheless, have to have a telephone that can learn NFC tags, which might omit some older gadgets. Or, as a backup, they’ll want the flexibility to scan the QR code the app gives as a workaround.
In the Popl app, you possibly can customise which knowledge you wish to share with others — together with your contact information, social profiles, web site hyperlinks, and many others. — all through an easy-to-use interface. Like some business card apps in the previous, you possibly can flip between a private profile and a business profile in Popl in order to share the suitable info when out networking. To truly make the alternate of contact info with one other particular person, you merely maintain up your telephone to theirs they usually’ll get a notification directing them to your Popl profile webpage. (The telephones don’t need to bodily contact or bump collectively, nevertheless. It’s extra like Apple Pay, the place they need to 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 assorted 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 handle e book, amongst different issues.
The app’s extra intelligent function, nevertheless, is one thing Popl calls “Direct.”
This patented function gained’t ship over the Popl web site the place the recipient then has to decide on how they wish to join. Instead, it opens the vacation spot app straight. For instance, you probably have LinkedIn Direct on, the recipient will likely be taken on to your profile on LinkedIn once they faucet the notification. Or if you happen to put your Contact Card on Direct, it should simply pop your handle e book entry onto the display screen so the person can select to reserve it to their telephone.
For paid customers, the app additionally enables you to observe 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 in the U.S. That might have been a disastrous time for a business designed to assist individuals alternate info throughout in-person conferences when the world was now shifting to Zoom and distant work. But Alvarez-Cohen says they marketed Popl as a “contactless solution.”
“If I have this, and I have to meet someone for my business, I don’t even have to tap it — you can just hover, and it will still send that information,” Alvarez-Cohen says. “So I’m able to share my business card with you without handing you a business card, which is safe.”
But what actually helped to promote Popl had been its video demos. One TikTook advert, which I’m certain you’ve seen if you happen to use TikTook in any respect, options the co-founders’ buddy Arev sharing her TikTook profile with a brand new buddy simply as she’s leaving the gymnasium.
In the video, the recipient — clearly dumbfounded by the technology after she faucets his telephone — responds “what? what? Whoa! What? How’d you do that?!”
It’s now been seen over 80 million instances.
Today, Popl’s TikTook movies get excessive tens of 1000’s, a whole lot of 1000’s and generally nonetheless tens of millions of views per video. The firm additionally has an energetic presence on different social media. For occasion, Popl posts usually to Instagram, the place it has over 100,000 followers. Today, the startup’s progress is about 60% pushed by Facebook 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. Though it had earlier than offered Popl’s in bulk for this function, it’s now readying an “event bracelet” that simply slips in your wrist (and is reusable). The bracelet may very well be used at any massive occasion — like music festivals or business conferences, the place you’re assembly loads of new individuals. And as a result of Popl makes use of NFC, telephones need to be near make the contact information alternate — it gained’t simply randomly share your information with everybody as you go by them.
Popl can be fleshing out the business networking facet of its app with integrations for Salesforce, Oracle, HubSpot and CSV export, that include its Popl Pro subscription ($4.99 per 30 days). The in-app subscription is already at $450,000-plus 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, Urban Innovation Fund, Cathexis Ventures and others angels, together with Wish.com CEO Peter Szulczewski and PlanGrid co-founder Ralph Gootee.
The app is out there on iOS and Android, and the Popl equipment are offered on its web site and on Target.com.
Update, 4/19/21, 6:45 PM ET: Post up to date with a extra present income determine after publication.