While universities are generally pretty good at organizing alumni events and getting people to attend, they aren’t always very good at facilitating interactions and matchmaking.
New York City-based Treatings hopes to fill that gap. The company is partnering with New York University to help its alumni connect with each other across the country.
“[The university is] frequently asked by alumni ‘Hey, do you know anyone that’s an alumni that works at Google or is a designer?’” cofounder and chief executive Hayden Williams told VentureBeat. Unfortunately, providing that resource is something these organizations have struggled with.
Now, NYU will officially promote Treatings to its alumni countrywide as an endorsed resource to help the connect. The Treatings team will be trying out various engagement tactics such as writing blog posts for the NYU alumni organization, social media strategies, and so on.
Treatings, founded in 2012 by Williams and Paul Osetinsky, started out as a site where professionals could find and meet others and, ideally, go on a coffee date to talk shop or discuss interests and skills.
People register with their LinkedIn profiles. The service is currently online-only, although a mobile app is up next on the product roadmap.
University alumni have already been using the site to network with others, so the partnership with NYU “is basically a formal partnership of something we’ve already been seeing happening,” Williams explained.
The team first experimented with this idea with the local New York City alumni chapters of Georgetown and the University of Virginia. While the heads of local chapters don’t have access to databases as large as the national networks, it was enough to test and see what alumni from the same college and living the same city would want out of their chapter and from a service like this.
“We noticed that people were most likely to talk to an alumnus. If they were trying to learn about UX design for example, and they had multiple options, they were most likely to go to an alumnus of the same school,” said Williams.
As an alumna of U.C. Berkeley, a very large school, I can absolutely see the value in Treatings’ partnership with NYU. When I was on the internship hunt while at school, it was pretty difficult to connect with alumni unless one could tap into a smaller school organization’s alumni network, such as greek organizations or professional organizations. Many of my fellow alumni also do stay in the Bay Area after graduation, so Treatings’ alumni offering would likely be quite welcome.
And of course, there are other companies working on the general idea of helping professionals find and engage with other professionals. Mobile app Weave is more or less a “Tinder for professionals,” using the Tinder-like swiping interface and nearby location as a criteria. Another company, CoffeeMe, requires members to apply in order to ensure a member base of high-quality professionals and serves up suggested connections to its users.
But although Treatings is getting started with professionals just like the companies above, it doesn’t want to limit itself in the long-run and is happy to embrace partnerships such as this one with NYU.
It helps that Williams and Osetinsky still have close ties to college life themselves. They are still living in their one-bedroom apartment outfitted with bunk beds and using the New York University (NYU) library as their office space.
“In general, there are a lot of organizations that have a vested interest in making their members more engaged,” said Williams, including nonprofits, meetup groups, and so on. The Treatings team is definitely open to working with them in the future.
“We’re just trying to surface serendipitous connections,” said Williams.
The company has been bootstrapped so far but is currently in the process of raising a modest seed round — just enough to hire a mobile developer and get its first app done. So trading in those bunkbeds isn’t in the foreseeable future.