MeetingWave Helps Make Offline Connections
The social application, found at Meetingwave.com, allows members to post potential outings like coffee, dinner or even a brainstorming session, then screen respondents and get connected. The tool, which also has a dedicated mobile Web site and a Facebook app, can synch pending appointments to a calendar, as well as import contact and company data from sites like LinkedIn.
Although users do not have to become members to peruse the available meetups, they can't respond to an invitation unless they join. MeetingWave members create a profile and are encouraged to add as much relevant info as possible--particularly details about work and past education--as these identifiers help both meeting hosts and attendees to better determine whether an opportunity is right for them.
Meeting hosts can require that potential attendees come from the same industry or have attended the same college, set up recurring meetings, and cancel a posted meetup for any reason. Meeting confirmations are sent via double-blind email, so both parties can decide whether to exchange contact info on their own.
According to MeetingWave founder John Boyd, the app is geared mostly toward road warriors who know the ins and outs of sleeping at airports and have had more than one solitary dinner at the hotel restaurant (or in their room in front of the flat screen).
"I used to travel for business quite a bit, and I'd always be going to these stark, industrial locations," said Boyd, a former lawyer. "There'd be a single hotel, with no place to find any entertainment, and the hotel restaurant would be filled with people eating alone." Boyd said he had always wondered whether the lonely diners were actually potential colleagues or business partners, sparking the idea to develop a "flexible business networking tool."
Originally dubbed TravelersTable, the site launched in November 2007. But after more than six months of feedback, the tool was rebranded MeetingWave in June--complete with the Facebook app, a new interface and more than 50,000 registered users. Boyd said the application gained a considerable amount of traction from Facebook users in particular, which has caused the company to expand some of the available meetup categories.
"About 20% of the posts are for business networking or people in search of a business partner or VC," Boyd said. "Another 30% of the posts are for social networking purposes--where people want to have coffee and talk. About 5% are sales pitches, like people saying here's my bar or coffee shop, come visit." And there's an odd 15% of romantic invites--posts Boyd said members don't see unless they explicitly opt in.
In terms of monetization, Boyd said there was potential for contextually targeted ads, but only after MeetingWave was able to sustain a large enough member base. The company tested AdSense ads for a short time, but found them to be aesthetically lacking. There are plans to develop a lead generation-based revenue stream, as well as partnerships with various conferences and business events, Boyd said.