It’s co-working app season. While our own studio team develops the Rainmaking Loft app, the young startup Sjelp on Ground Floor are crafting a related networking tool for entrepreneurs. The Sjelp app welcomes the user with a swiping function, which puts it in the product family of Tinder and the more recent business version, Grip. In Sjelp’s case you are introduced to a flow of challenges from fellow startups. ”I’m looking for an illustrator to gloss over our pitch deck” or ”Any UX’er with two hours available for prototype feedback?” A confirming swipe to the right opens a chat, so you can set up the details. Taking into account that Loft residents send 700+ Slack messages to each other on a good week, establishing this culture of give and take is not utopia.
”What should happen is an exchange of favors. But because entrepreneurs are busy people, we are going to employ a reward system,” Anders Fisker says.
The rewards will be non-monetary – Kickstarter-style – so for instance a Sjelp user could get a dinner or a product discount from the startup he helps.
While the swipe & chat-structure is fairly simple, Fisker wants to expand it over time, so it becomes a one-stop-shop for co-working spaces; think billing and other back office functions added.
“These elements will demand a cloud-based web solution,” he points out, as the app experience only can contain so much.
Here lies one of the most interesting aspects of translating a physical collaborative into a digital one. How do you squeeze all of it in there? The social complexity too? Last month a group of students at CBS summer school presented an interesting take on it. Working with Rainmaking Loft as a case they had outlined a digital map of our house. Each startup in residence was featured as a simple circle. If it was colored grey, it was not looking for external assistance. If it was green, it needed something: a new employee, a new input, a slice of deep industry knowledge. A mouseover would provide a summery of the task and contact info. Visually all those colored dots felt busy and encouraging (like glancing at BIG’s iconic project overview).
“The challenge is to make people see the value of helping each other,” as Anders Fisker puts it. It could start with nice icons.