It’s no secret that thriving communities are built on meaningful connections. But we all know that taking that first step and reaching out can sometimes be easier said than done. In our latest blog, we sat down with Chris Weeks, PLATF9RM member and founder of Bounce Technologies, to dive into the details of his latest masterpiece – Heythere. This newly launched platform is designed to turbocharge member introductions, paving the way for collaboration and forging those strong, lasting connections that we all crave.
I have always had a keen interest in technology and building products. Initially, I worked on developing products for other individuals or companies, it was only once I launched Bounce Technologies and we launched our first product – Bounce, the mental health app – and seeing people use it and pay for it was terrific. This was a huge milestone.
The second major milestone happened with our third or fourth product, Text Compare, which we sell to customers worldwide, including the US, Europe, South America, and Asia. This was when I realised the immense power and scalability of technology. It’s crazy to think there are people in South Korea whom I’ve never met who use our product, and that it was basically all built on our laptops in Brighton.
Building our team has been a big moment for me. We started the company by quitting our old jobs and using our savings to live off. Now we have a team of six people and an office which I still find crazy. I kinda thought we would run out of money in six months and be back at our old jobs, but we have managed to keep going and slowly grow.
Technology plays a pivotal role, mainly due to the constraints posed by physical spaces compared to digital spaces. Consider, for instance, the challenge of gathering all your members in one location, there isn’t a room big enough, but this is easily achieved on Slack. But it has to be a delicate balance; physical spaces offer a sense of place and community and a richer experience.
The key to any technology is that it should be helpful; therefore, any technology implemented at PLATF9RM needs to enhance members’ experience and not hinder their work. If your members have to think about using the technology, it has failed for me.
Honestly, there wasn’t a specific eureka moment. We were initially developing another product, AudienceKit, designed to help membership managers in predicting member churn. During this process, our conversation with membership managers revealed a common challenge- they all invested significant time and effort in manually facilitating introduction among their members, like spending 6 to 8 hours a week doing it. Seeing this pain point, I offered to build the first version of Heythere for our first customer, and we then continued building the product from there. I know, it’s not the most exciting story, but I guess it was more the problem that found us.
One of the most significant insights is how deeply personal the nature of connecting two people together is. There are a lot of social dynamics at play, raising questions such as seeking permission, ensuring mutual benefit, and anticipating potential compatibility issues. People behave very differently in this context; some are open to sharing their network, while others protect theirs with exclusivity akin to an elite club.
Building a product that navigates these challenges is an exciting problem to solve. It is also rewarding to be working on something that helps humans connect and build stronger relationships.
Heythere enhances your network by facilitating connections, leading to increased engagement, sales, and opportunities. We do this in several ways:
Our main aim is to help as many people as possible connect with each other. When more people connect, they share more ideas, create more chances to work together and start more collaborations. The more diverse these connections, the more diverse the ideas and work created. Let me give you an example: I once helped a person starting a new business. He needed connections to kickstart his venture. I introduced him to 3 or 4 people who could assist him. Recently, he told me, “Without those connections, my business wouldn’t exist.” This shows how important it is to connect people.
I’ve done a lot of work in AI, though I wouldn’t call myself an aficionado since there’s so much to learn, and at the moment, AI isn’t my primary focus at the moment.
Regarding AI’s impact on work, it’s set to be a game-changer, similar to how Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel revolutionised our work routines or the way the internet transformed working methods. It will be a major change like that; in the future, it will be hard to think of work without AI tools. For instance, our team already uses AI tools daily for various tasks like coding, writing (including using ChatGPT for question responses), generating marketing ideas, conducting competitor analysis, simplifying complex ideas, etc. There are so many ways these tools will help us in our day-to-day work, and it’s only getting started. It is super exciting.
Right now, our main focus is on helping people make the initial connections. We’ve also started creating a toolkit for membership managers here which helps them with templates and guides on other ways of engaging their network. As we move forward, we plan to find more ways to help our customers. This includes not only making initial connections but also helping them nurture those relationships.
We are always working on new features. Some key things we’re focusing on include better LinkedIn integration, suggested introductions, reminders, Slackbot improvements and new AI features.
These updates are all about helping our users facilitate connections between people in their network, leading to increased engagement, idea sharing, collaborations, sales, and opportunities.
Heythere will be rolling out to PLATF9RM members in 2024! In the meantime, you can find out more by visiting the Heythere website.