Business

Like a Highlight for salespeople, Serendipity creates “chance” business encounters

Serendipity, the latest product from business app developer Taptera, helps Salesforce.com customers view potential sales leads around them on their iPhones.

The app is taking a similar approach to Highlight and Sonar, both apps that help find people near you with similar interests. Serendipity works like this: Say you’re in a coffee shop and the owner of a business you’ve been trying to make a deal with posts on Twitter that he’s getting a latte at the same location. Serendipity will let you know so you can create a “chance” encounter with that person.

It ties in with Salesforce.com, making it even more useful. One feature of Salesforce’s Sales Cloud is Opportunities, which shows details about deals that your team is working on, including the names of customers and the value of the deal. Serendipity uses that data, mashes it up with your social network contacts and address book data, adds geographic data, and uses all of that to find people near you that could become sales leads.

serendipity demo

Above: Taptera co-founder Dan McCall

“In our experience, the ability to close deals is generally based on accessibility to the best information possible. Now, with untethered intelligence via Serendipity, these dedicated salespeople can truly ‘always be closing,’” said Taptera chief executive Chris O’Connor in a statement.

Though named Serendipity, the app is anything but serendipitous. The encounters facilitated by the app don’t happen by accident, but instead they are sneakily planned out. The company’s hope is that only one person realizes the interaction is planned, while the other person feels like they just had a chance encounter.

Highlight and Sonar have been called out for being slightly creepy and Serendipity falls under that umbrella as well. Overzealous sales people could abuse the app and create some less-than-satisfying interactions with people who don’t want to be bothered. If business people get wind of the app and stop sharing their locations on Twitter, Serendipity might fail to be useful.

In a panel following the demonstration, The Climate Corporation CEO David Friedberg said the Serendipity app lacked a specific customer. “There are 100 varieties of a sales person,” he said. The company, he explained, should focus on one particular vertical or user.

Taptera creates mobile applications for businesses, including apps that help book conference rooms, connect with company directories, and organize events. The company was founded in 2011 and is based in San Francisco, Calif. The company raised $2 million in equity in 2011.

Taptera is one of 80 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Spring 2012 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After we make our selections, the chosen companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.

Image: Sarah Mitroff/VentureBeat


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