A new social networking site has been launched in Europe, and it is called butN. Its founder, Robin Chater, addressed the media at a news conference Tuesday morning, October 28, and he pointed out why butN “goes well beyond other networking systems such as LinkedIn.”
According to him, the social media is full of five-minute wonders as the world waits for the next generation after Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. “butN has been likened to ‘Tinder’ because its purpose is to meet face-to-face and it uses proximity sensing to find potential contacts.” This begs the billion dollar question: Could butN be the next big thing?
“butN is about business and is geared to face-to-face networking – using Internet connectivity, GPS and other technologies to allow professionals to build up contacts globally with people they have met and therefore really know.”
The butN founder is frequently asked whether his brainchild is effectively a business-dating site. “There is a clear line between work and private life and I think every day we draw that distinction without any problem.”
Chater rejected initial descriptions of butN as “a Tinder for business.” He insisted that “getting to know the interesting professionals and executives in your vicinity is a great advantage when you are away from home on business and your time is normally at such a premium. If you join a conventional online business-networking site like LinkedIn it does not matter where the other people you connect with are. You are not, after all, using the network to actually meet them.”
But Chater had to admit that the team developing butN did sign up to a number of dating sites to carry out their initial research – much to the anger of one partner when she discovered romantic messages arriving on her husband’s smartphone. But the importance of such research was because dating sites have pushed the boundaries of connectivity far more than general social networks.
Where business networking differs markedly from dating is, according to Chater, “that there is no ulterior motive or fixed objective in networking and definitely no good night kiss. Although there is always a social element to both dating and business networking the important factors are not what someone looks like or their personality – but who they work for, who they know and what new commercial or technical insights the other person can provide.”
butN has done extensive beta testing, mainly in Australia. “We have also spoken to hotel groups and airlines in order to discover how butN could be customized into badged sites for them. Hotels, in particular, have a long way to go from calling clients guests to acting themselves like true hosts.
But does butN have any rivals? “Well, yes we do”, admits Robin. “It is always good to have competition. There is an App called “Hellotel” going the rounds. But we have monitored traffic on Google and it has few takers. I also doubt its seriousness, as they do not seem to be protecting their brand name. ButN was not developed just as an App and is therefore closer to LinkedIn as a more substantial system. We are also close to securing an injection of venture capital. So whether we can go beyond LinkedIn and grab market share only time can tell.”
The Tinder Connection
Robin insisted that “although Sean Rad, and Justin Mateen, who are behind the notorious dating site Tinder, announced last year they wanted to move into business networking they have not done so. Perhaps they have wisely realized that they would have no credibility whatsoever in the business community. That is where we differ completely because we are backed by a leading employers’ group and an international law firm network.”
Robin claimed that need for butN long preceded the Internet. “In Greek mythology the youngest son of Zeus was called Caerus, the god of opportunity. Caerus had one lock of hair hanging across the front of his face and he ran everywhere very swiftly. If you did not seize him by the hair as he came towards you he (and all great opportunities) would be lost forever. Everyday in business Caerus passes by and few reach out in time. butN is designed to help catch Caerus in his path.”
Asked how the idea for butN came about Chater explained, “I was in a hotel in Guangzhou, southern China last year and noticed how popular ‘We Chat’ had become amongst the Chinese business community. This made me reflect on how all the major social media breakthroughs had originated in only two countries – either the USA or China.”
He added: “I had often personally felt a sense of lost opportunity during long evenings in faceless hotels after the stresses of daytime meetings. It was also becoming clearer to me how online networking could be adapted to help the business traveler relax in a productive way – and the key was using digital technology to increase face-to face connections.”
View butN online at http://www.but-n.com