To find a partner, there are dating and wedding platforms such as Tinder, QuackQuack, TrulyMadly and Shaadi.com. What if you want a professional partner? Investor? Co-founder? Mentor? While LinkedIn is considered generic, apps such as Lunchclub and CoffeeMug.ai position themselves as curated apps. Online networking opened up more than ever during the pandemic - one million connections and 15-fold growth in 2020 alone, according to LunchClub app and professional matchmaking apps are proliferating.
They leverage Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and algorithms to figure your best professional match online, paring you up and setting up meetings with the right professionals. LunchClub, founded in the United States in 2018, entered India in October 2021 to onboard over 100,000 users in India by the end of the year.
Says Pritish Nair, India lead for Lunchclub, "Based on common interests, values, and goals, we at Lunchclub connect a diverse community of members from around the world. Members can sign up using email, and have options to connect based on personal preferences. The app facilitates a virtual or in-person meeting for two members. LunchClub’s hyper-relevant connections have resulted in new businesses, partnerships, non-profit organisations and long-lasting professional friendships."
Initially launched as an invite-only platform that facilitated in-person meetings, it has now transformed during the pandemic to offer one-on-one video meetings. “Our AI is capable of narrowing down a depository of profiles to connect people to get an opportunity to meet someone they wouldn’t have met otherwise,” he adds.
Meanwhile, CoffeeMug.ai is a Singapore-based AI-powered one-on-one professional networking platform connecting professionals, investors, and business leaders. Talking about the adaption rates at CoffeeMug.ai, co-founder Abhishek Sharma says, "We are adding over 16,000 members every month to the community and its growth rate is 20 percent month-on-month in Singapore and India. About 60 percent of members are active on the platform."
The app connects users based on mutual relevance. The user has to apply and the algorithm decides if they are 'in' or 'out' , doing away with the 'timepass'’ messaging. "So a young working professional with barely any expertise may get a rating of four and if the CEO or COO he is trying to connect gets a nine based on his/her experience, success rate, certifications etc, the algorithm may not connect them," he said.
Their AI gatekeeper algorithm also rejects pairs if found unsuitable. "In case both the users have similar ratings and are relevant, the app prompts an ‘express interest’ call to action and the two of them can connect, either on the app or through the exchange of contact/WhatsApp numbers. The paired users get to choose time slots for a meeting. “Once the match is made, our job ends," Sharma explains.