Tech & Work

Intro app aims to rethink the business card

Platform about.me updates an old staple of the professional world with new app Intro.

intro.png

Most days, Tony Conrad has more business cards than he knows what to do with.

"I look at these cards, especially after a conference or being at an event or a cocktail party, and I have no idea who any of these people are," said the CEO of about.me.

It's not an uncommon problem. Networking advice often includes tips like jotting down notes about the person or conversation you've just had on a freshly-received business card, but that doesn't always happen. And perhaps a few weeks later, "guy with red scarf" won't conjure much.

Lack of context is one of a few problems about.me is looking to solve with the launch of Intro, an app that puts a new spin on an old staple of the professional world— the business card.

about.me is a platform for managing online identity, going off the idea that there should be an alternative to being "narrowly defined," as Conrad said, by a social graph or professional list of accomplisments. Instead, about.me pages link out to Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or whatever combination of networks the user feels represents them holistically.

Along the way, about.me has added business-friendly features like the ability to inlclude resumes in profiles, or a thumbnail of an about.me profile in an email signature.

Now comes the business card.

Technically, Intro isn't about.me's first foray into business cards. A bit more than a year ago, they offered free physical business cards to users. The cards included links to users' pages, as well as their picture.

Development on Intro started in May. By August, the about.me team was ready to test drive the product, and in October Intro made a soft launch.

Intro isn't the first to tackle modernizing the business card. The field of digital business cards includes everything from ways to scan and add physical business cards to a user's contacts, to various methods of corralling new contacts' online presences, to creating traditional-looking business cards which can then be sent via mobile.

Conrad thinks that the time is right for digital business cards, and what's more, there's been a move toward the idea of them, but the means of getting from idea to product has been rocky.

"I want to use my phone as a way of facilitating a follow up contact card, but that product execution is not the right execution," Conrad said.

A few years back, app Bump let users tap phones together in order to swap contact info.

Conrad said that aside from the fact that newer and more expensive phones make users less likely to want to tap them against anything, there are still a few lingering problems he hopes Intro addresses.

For one, he talked about the inability to customize business cards on the fly. So, users can pick and choose which info — cell phone number, email address — a new contact will receive.

There's also the element of availability.

"One thing that I've always disliked about the physical business card is that often I don't have it," he said.

People run out, misplace them, forget them — there's a familiar dance that accompanies searching for a business card that involves the patting of various pockets.

A phone, on the other hand, is something that Conrad is willing to bet most folks have on them at all times.

At the moment, Intro is available in the App Store. Users don't have to have an about.me page to use Intro, they can use Facebook to sign up.

Conrad also said they're also planning an Android version in the future.

Also see:

About Erin Carson

Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox