Alumni Spotlight: Improving Networking Events With the Pearescope App
Alexander Gross, ’06, is working late nights and weekends at a startup that could become an alternative legal career. At his second job, he works on business development for Pearescope, an app that lets you know if any of your Facebook friends — or their friends — are nearby. The app is currently available for iPad, iPhone, and the iPod Touch.
The goal of the app is to help people make connections. “When people attend an event, and log into the Pearescope app they essentially share their living Rolodex, which is Facebook, then if there are any mutual friends nearby, the app will in real time facilitate an introduction.” Pearescope has been present at networking events, including a night with Fulbright Scholars at the UN, at a media agency sponsored scotch tasting, a local BNI meeting, and, recently, at a BLS SBA event.
“Event planners are now asking us to come. They see how the technology can help the event. It helps us promote the app and it enhances their event, too,” says Gross.
The idea for Pearescope came to Whit Schrader in 2006, while studying in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar. He kept meeting friends of friends, but he felt that he was meeting people inefficiently. Technology could improve the process. In 2008, Whit incorporated Schrader Labs while he was working on a Ph.D. in neuroscience at Vanderbilt University, in Tennessee. Schrader soon dropped out of the degree program, filed provisional patents in 2009, and has patents pending as of 2010.
The company is undergoing furious and constant development that focuses on simplicity and security. Eventually, the company hopes to add numerous other features, but for now, it is focusing on providing simple networking technology that works.
Pearescope will launch the app at a new conference for startups here in New York City called New York Tech Day. “This will be the first trade show to implement a new networking technology in real time,” says Gross.
Gross got involved with the company through networking of his own. A fraternity brother introduced him to Pearescope and Gross loved the idea.
Is Pearescope imitating Facebook’s launch strategy? Not really, but the company does plan to launch on college campuses across the United States this August. The back end of the app is designed to withstand exponential increases of users. Of course, as more people use Pearescope, users will shrink the search radius, because otherwise the app would deliver too many hits. On a college campus, users might search only their immediate area for friends and friends of friends.
As the company’s name suggests, the app is not designed to be on all the time, “although it could be on all the time for the eager networker, such as myself,” says Gross. Instead, it’s designed for people who go to an event to meet other people. Once there, they can turn it on and starting making friends. Once they leave, they can turn it off. It lets the user resemble a submarine (with a periscope) in that the user will only be visible when they choose to be visible.
Gross is of course very excited by the latest valuations of social networking companies. Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in cash and shares (but some of these tech companies are sitting on cash mountains: Facebook has several billion dollars in cash on hand and may earn $1 billion per year). Some pundits say that Pinterest could sell for more.
Gross is focusing on the basics, talking to event planners, trade show operators, bar owners, and anyone else who could see value from the app. He hopes that users find serendipitous value in it too. “You could be on a bus and going home and you might see that your friends or friends of friends are in a bar, so you’d drop off the bus early and go there,” he says.
Pearescope will be at Brooklyn Law School again this weekend as a sponsor of a networking competition at the BLIP Clinic’s Legal Hackathon. See you there.