Firmology’s Techweek Series profiles tech startups & companies, products and services that small businesses can leverage to innovate and grow their business. Learn more about Techweek 12 and some of the small business-centric featured speakers.
There are many reasons why business cards are going the way of the dinosaur.
- Expensive. Business cards are not cheap, especially with upgrades like full color, higher quality paper stock and double-sided printing (which really should be standard).
- Inconvenient. How many times have you met someone randomly and not had your business card? That happens to me all the time. It’s annoying to carry around your business card holder. There’s only so much room in our pockets (or purses).
- Inefficient. Once you get home or to the office, you have to input the information into your contact management software, Outlook database, Excel spreadsheet or whatever other method you have to organize your contacts. Hopefully, we’ve all moved past the physical Rolodex.
- Limited. Unless you carry around a notebook and a pen at all times, odds are you’re jotting down notes on the business card itself, usually with a borrowed pen. There’s only so much room on a business card, especially when writing copious notes to trigger your memory.
- Wasteful. After you spend an hour inputting information from the business cards you’ve collected, what do you do with it? That’s right. Straight into the recycle bin or trash can it goes, just like junk mail.
The Chicago-based startup was co-founded by Jeb Ory, Kilton Hopkins and Kelly Schwedland. After meeting at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the trio decided to design and develop a lightweight, yet powerful and engaging iPhone CRM app to differentiate their product from competing mobile contact management tools that are slow, heavy and non-engaging.
Co-founder Jeb Ory demoed the app for us and, in less than a minute, entered my name and email address into the 5Degrees app on his iPhone, which in turn, found my picture on the web and located my LinkedIn profile.
After connecting my picture and LinkedIn profile to my 5Degrees profile, Jeb quickly added me to several circles (inspired by Google+ circles) and tags, which you can think of as groups and interests, respectively. I believe he added me to Techweek, tech and Chicago, but it was such a fast and seamless experience that I can’t recall all of them.
The highlight of the 5Degrees demo? The ‘lightweight” scheduled email templates. Rather than create more work and schedule a new activity to follow-up with me after the conference, Jeb selected a “nice to meet you” email template and scheduled it to send the next day at 10am.
A midst my hectic schedule at Techweek, I completely forgot about the email until I received it the next day and thought, “Man, that Jeb is a really nice guy and has great follow-up skills.” Then I remembered he had auto-scheduled it right in front of me! Brilliant! Huge time saver and builds on a new professional relationship with a touch base when the meeting is still top of mind.
So what about those convenient business card scanner apps like LinkedIn CardMunch and Evernote Hello? You can snap a picture of the business card using your mobile phone and 5Degrees inputs the new contact’s information into your database using manual transcription that ensures high accuracy.
With the proliferation of mobile contact management apps entering the marketplace, the decline of the business card might end up working in favor of people who do still carry business cards. Our Firmology Mini Cards are always a conversation starter and get a positive reaction 95% of the time.
Either way, the tech industry has pinned the business card wanted poster up on the wall and mobile CRM app developers like 5Degrees are gunning for the reward, business card dead or alive.
ICEBREAKER: Do you use a mobile contact manager like 5Degrees for your small business? Tell us what you like and dislike about the app you use.
To contact the writer on this story: Philip Nowak in Chicago at email@example.com. Please contact us if you’d like to submit a story or advertise on Firmology.
Philip Nowak is the founder of Firmology, a small business news and information media company focused on helping small business owners grow their business through technology and innovation. You can find Philip on Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.