LinkedIn is a great way to show yourself off to prospective employers and stay in touch with people you know. But it’s not great for meeting people outside your network.
If you want to meet someone you don’t know via LinkedIn, you can spam them with a connection request (a violation of LinkedIn’s rules) or find someone who knows someone who knows the person, and ask to be introduced.
That’s not exactly how the social norm is supposed to work, as in: “Pardon me. You don’t know me. And I don’t know her. Can you introduce us?”
Enter the Boulder, Colo.-based startup Conspire, founded by two data scientists who met at Stanford, Alex Devkar and Paul McReynolds.
Conspire uses your own email account as the basis for a game of Six Degrees of Separation. Sign up, and it analyzes your email. Then enter the name of the person you want to search and it finds someone in your contact list to introduce you, examining that person’s social media connections. It may even find multiple people to help introduce you. Then it will recommend the best choice.
Conspire is in a limited beta right now with about 1,200 users. The address books from those users gave it a network of 5.1 million people. Conspire’s co-founder Devkar estimates that when 25,000 users join, they will produce a network of 100 million people.
“LinkedIn had 90 million users at its IPO,” Devkar points out, speaking at the Venture Capital in the Rockies Conference in Vail.
Conspire uses a smart computer algorithm to figure things out like the multiple email addresses of the same person. The founders says it operates at 95% accuracy.
We have to warn that when we played with it with a very limited address book, it wasn’t terribly accurate. It often showed outdated information, like old work titles and former employers. But the company and its tech are very young, founded in 2012 as part of TechStars.
If the accuracy can be fine-tuned Conspire could become one of the most useful email add-on products ever, as good or better than inbox email analyzers Xobni, (bought by Yahoo in 2013 and closed down) or Rapportive. And it could be a great alternative to LinkedIn for introductions.
The company recently relocated from San Francisco to Boulder and here’s a fun fact about co-founder Paul McReynolds, from his LinkedIn profile: He’s a Hollywood consultant who coached actor Jesse Eisenberg on coding and tech terms when Eisenberg starred as Mark Zuckerberg in the film, “The Social Network.” McReynolds even played a part in the movie: he was Eisenberg’s hand-double during certain typing scenes.
Below is a screen grab showing what Conspire looks like. When we searched for an introduction to Devkar, it suggested the best way to contact him was to email him directly.
But it also came up with several options in our email network to get an introduction.