Since the advent of the internet, the world of business networking has changed drastically. Advanced connectivity in the form of social media and mobile applications has allowed us to reach out to people who share similar interests in ways that were simply not possible before.
Among the pioneers who are shaping this new world we live in is Ludovic Huraux, founder and CEO of Shapr; an up-and-coming mobile app that seeks to redefine the way in which professionals network with each other.
Since launching a beta version of the app in 2015, Ludovic and his team at Shapr have refined and simplified the UX to create a more seamless experience for the end-user. Now with a total of 700k users and an average of 2,500 downloads per day, the app appears to be diffusing rapidly among early adopters and networking enthusiasts.
Shapr has a diverse user base spread across the U.S., UK, France and Canada – but their ambitions for global expansion don’t end there. Last month, Shapr saw it’s biggest uptake in app downloads so far, with 80,000 users registering an account within the 30 day period.
I caught up with Ludovic to talk with him about his journey so far with Shapr.
Thanks for joining us today, Ludovic!
No problem, glad to be here!
So, what were you up to before you started your adventure with Shapr?
Shapr is my second entrepreneurial project. Previous to Shapr, I launched and sold Attractive World, a French-language premium-dating site. Attractive World was an amazing adventure. It was my first startup, and one in which I relied heavily on my network to get advice on how to build the brand. I was joined by a remarkable team, which grew the business to be one of the leading dating websites in France. The company successfully sold to Affinitas Group, and several professionals I met through my first company are now an integral part of Shapr.
And what inspired you to create Shapr?
The reason my first startup was successful was because of the incredible network of people who supported my vision. I relied on my network to introduce co-founders and senior leaders, to help get the word out about the brand, and to advise me on things I was doing for the first time such as television advertising. My network inspired me, challenged me, and helped keep me centered, even during tough months.
I have personally experienced how powerful a conversation with someone new can be. My goal at Shapr is to make networking so simple and inspiring that it becomes part of an everyday habit for professionals around the globe.
What methods did you use to promote the app?
The team started by sharing Shapr with our own networks, asking friends to test the app, provide feedback and help get the word out. From there, we found success with Instagram and Facebook ads, and helped to promote our message through branded content with media partners including Entrepreneur. We have also been lucky to get some incredibly positive free press, with features in top publications including Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Inc., Wired, and BBC News.
As Shapr is a useful and free app, we are lucky that our users do a lot of the promotion for us, by talking about Shapr on their personal social media profiles and by sharing the app with colleagues. 50% of our growth is completely organic.
Wow! So what social media platforms have been most successful for marketing Shapr?
Instagram and Facebook ads have allowed us to target professionals in specific cities. We are always careful to spend our marketing dollars in specific urban areas, so that our community can be easily matched when new people join the app.
What were the main challenges in taking Shapr to market?
We have to convince people that networking is an important everyday habit, and that using an app is the easiest way to do it. Ten years ago, online dating was considered creepy, and now it’s the way most people meet their romantic matches. We want to do the same for networking.
Do you have anything planned for the app in the near future?
Absolutely! Our latest feature we just unveiled is Shapr for Communities, a completely free way to engage members of an existing community, such as an alumni group, a nonprofit organization, or a diversity and inclusion group. Using Shapr, communities can get visibility for their brands and spark interesting conversations between members of their groups.
For example, we are working with #WomensMarch to help activists meet more directly between events. If you are part of an event or group and want to learn more about how we can help your community grow, you can visit http://www.shapr.co/communities to get started.
We are also launching Shapr Premium later this fall, which is the first time we will monetize the app. Users who opt in will be able to set their location manually, double the size of their daily suggestions, and enjoy a few other special features we will unveil soon!
Sounds exciting! And finally, do you have any predictions for the future of social media?
Social media will continue to scale and new sites will continue to pop up, but I truly believe people are missing live interaction, face to face. Tools such as Shapr will help people balance their online lives while continuing to make personal connections outside their devices.
Interesting! Thanks again for talking with us – and all the best for the future!
Thanks, it’s been a pleasure.