Back in September, a number of societies trialed a different way of signing up new members at Bunfight with a new app called Intro. As detailed by one of its founders, Tom Phipps, this University of Southampton Future Worlds project has continued to build since then.
Co-founded by childhood friends Max Beech (University of Exeter BSc Computer Science Grad, 2015-18) and Tom Phipps (University of Southampton LLB Law Grad, 2015-18, MSc Project Management, 2018-19), the Intro began life at the SETsquared Partnership 3 Day StartUp Programme down at the University of Exeter in October 2017 as Max and Tom worked together to make an idea a reality.
The core appeals of Intro are its current free-to-use status and how it significantly reduces the time spent manually inputting contact details into your phone or other devices by compiling all the social media channels, contact information and other details which a user wishes to share.
As Tom Phipps (pictured on the right above) described to Wessex Scene, the inspiration for the app came from attending networking events and finding the process of exchanging contact details often ‘long, laborious and outdated with common problems including inputting details wrong, failing to find the other person on these sites, or misplacing their information’. The development of Intro ‘revolutionises the way people connect with each other in everyday life’. By a single tap, two users of the app can immediately connect and exchange details.
Tom further detailed the logistics behind how it exactly works:
Intro uses the latest cutting-edge technologies to make wireless communication entirely effortless. Through a combination of Low-Energy Bluetooth, Ultrasonic Radio Waves as well as WiFi, Intro seamlessly exchanges contact information without the need for any device pairing or manual input. This innovative, secure and instantaneous data exchange process has been critical to the development of the app and something that would just not have been technically possible until very recently.
Via a number of University schemes, including the SEED start-up fund and Z21 innovation fund, Tom and Max have managed to raise £40,000 for their project along the way. Intro is one of the businesses which are part of the University’s Future Worlds start-ups scheme.
Future World is a start-up network which seeks to help aspiring entrepreneurs and technological innovations gain the resources needed to become major successes. Other current projects besides Intro include AudioScenic, who specialise in the production of immersive 3D audio, and Cluttr, which is an app that aims to help housemates coordinate essential house sharing tasks. In 2017, Future Worlds was singled out for praise by then-Minister for Digital and Culture Policy, Matt Hancock, who’s probably best known for creating his own app and naming it after himself.
Tom explained how being part of the start-up incubator has helped Intro’s progress:
Future Worlds has provided great support and many opportunities for us as we continue our work on Intro. Not only does this include the access which they provide to incredible mentor and investor networks, but also the programmes which they run, including the inspiring 20 min founder talks which they host for anyone at the university with an interest in entrepreneurship, the 6 month accelerator programme, as well as taking start-ups out to the Consumer Electronics Show every year (University of Southampton is the only UK university which does this and has done for the past four years!).
He added that they were ‘very lucky’ to be part of the first group of start-ups in the new Accelerator space on campus, based in Building 1 on Highfield Campus, as well as attended the prestigious Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as part of Future Worlds.
That’s it! #CES2019 is all over now and the aisles are spookily 👻 quiet 🤫. Thank you to everyone who has supported the team and our incredible startups 🤩 over this last week and since it all started at #CES 4 years ago! pic.twitter.com/rWcrhmfr3q
— Future Worlds (@FutureWorlds) January 12, 2019
Recently and following on from CES, Tom and Max spent two weeks in the USA, visiting San Francisco, Los Angeles and the Silicon Valley. The trip enabled them to identify ways in which the platform can grow, particularly on the ‘business-to-consumer aspect’:
Due to the ability to exchange information so easily, the platform is being developed so that it can also help businesses, whether it be for onboarding, marketing, as well as many other purposes. Testament to this was the fact that 25 businesses used our product at CES to better engage with attendees.
We firmly believe that the variety of use cases means that users will keep finding a variety of purposes for it, making it a useful tool in everyday life. It is for this reason we have targeted the student market, where they are often faced with a variety of different situations in which they need to exchange details.