“The business card was invented hundreds of years ago,” says Andrew Amann of Inigo, referring to the 18th-century practice of handing a card with your name printed on it to a butler or servant to announce your presence at the door of an aristocratic house.
But modern business cards serve a far different purpose: They make it easier to follow up with someone after a serendipitous encounter. Amann believes that, in the smartphone age, exchanging little paper rectangles is no longer the best way to do that.
Inigo is a digital business card. (And yes, the name comes from where you think it does, the rationale being that Inigo comes into play when you approach someone and say “Hello, my name is…”)
Available for Android and coming to the iTunes Store sometime this spring, Inigo lets users trade contact info, including direct links to all social media profiles, with a QR code scan or via text or email. Users can also customize which profiles they want to share depending on whom they’ve just met. New friend? Send them to Facebook! Potential employer? Better stick with LinkedIn.
And now Inigo has yet another leg up on the card stock competition: an analytics feature that lets users track their digital business card’s performance. The feature, which launches today, offers three metrics: how many people took your card, how many of them actually looked at it, and which of your profiles they viewed. Amann says that the feature will be particularly useful to sales managers, who will often give their agents a quota of business cards to distribute at networking events. The analytics feature, he says, will help sales managers know whether the event was a good fit for the agent and for the company.
But Inigo is not just for sales. It is intended for the general networking population.
“We want to appeal to the average user.” says Amann, “That’s who we are – we go to these events just as consumers. We don’t have a boss who’s forcing us.”
The need for Inigo is a reflection of the ways in which social media have changed the experience of meeting someone. Today, says Amann, there are two introductions: the one that happens in real life and then a second one that happens online.
“They are very different events,” he says, “The [first] introduction is about how extroverted you are, how well can you talk to people and make that first impression.” But even a perfect charmer IRL might still lose followups due to an unpresentable or otherwise alienating online presence. Inigo’s metrics let you gauge what kind of second impression you’re making.
Although smartphones and social media are often accused of promoting habits of self-isolation, Amann is an adamant defender of venturing forth into meatspace. “You can’t just meet people online and use Inigo,” he says. “You have to meet them in person. I’m a huge, firm believer that online is a secondary thing.”
Inigo isn’t the only Boston startup trying to reinvent the business card: Scott Kirsner recently profiled TouchBase, which offers “tappable” business cards.