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tablen social network concept

Unhappy with the current state of collaboration in social networks, Luan Ngo-Tran decided to build one of his own: Tablen, a social network that harkens back to having conversations around a table with friends.

The company is making its debut today at DEMO Spring 2012 in Santa Clara, Calif., an event which is co-produced by VentureBeat.

The Tablen concept (illustrated above) is admittedly confusing when viewed from afar. But Ngo-Tran believes that by focusing on a few friends at a table, instead of your entire Facebook or Twitter network, you can have a better conversation. At the same time, he believes the connections you make on Tablen can grow your social graph much faster than other networks (yes, I realize this is at odds with the whole focus-on-quality conversation).

“The nature of exclusiveness in a table surprisingly lets you expand your social reach at supersonic speeds,” Ngo-Tron said in an email to VentureBeat. “Just like you go to my party and become friends with all my guests. If you do this on a table of 20 mates, the speed at which your social graph expands is 21 times faster than Facebook or Google Plus.”

The inspiration for Tablen came when Ngo-Tran hired co-founder Tri Tran’s company to build a custom corporate network. Ngo-Tran’s employees ended up loving the service, and asked to have recreational tables created, in addition to tables for work collaboration. In April 2010, the pair pushed the social network forward to create Tablen.

[Update: On stage at DEMO, Ngo-Tran showed how it was easy to create tables with different friends. You can add “table mates” to the table, and they can converse with everyone. You can drill down on information about friends, or start side conversations from directly within the table. In that way, a Tablen group is different from a Google Circle, which is a way to divide your friends into groups.]

The Saigon, Vietnam-based company clearly has some maturing left to do, but Ngo-Tran says he already has 500 friends testing out the service, who have created 1,200 tables so far. He’s managed to raise $80,000 from an angel investor.

[Photo credit: Heather Kelly]

Tablen 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.

[Photo credit: Heather Kelly]

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