In an age of social distancing, it is more difficult than ever to make new professional contacts. Amsterdam-based Cooper is building a network dedicated to getting and receiving launches.
"Everything that happens on the network is based on introductions," CEO Robert Gaal told me. "You should never receive an unwanted message and there is no connection request as it is not required when you have an introduction."
The startup launches internationally today and announces that it has raised $ 2 million in seed capital.
Gaal (who co-founded the company with CTO Emiel van Liere) described Cooper As a "private professional network that isn't about how many connections I have, it's about putting the people you already trust into a circle."
This is in contrast to existing professional networking sites, which are most useful as "directories" of online resumes and tend to emphasize the quantity of links rather than quality. (I'll admit that I'm connected to a number of people on LinkedIn that I barely know.)
So Cooper tries to take the reverse approach, limiting users' connections with people they really know. For this purpose, data can be retrieved from a user's online calendar and a personal invitation code can be provided that they can share with their professional contacts.
Users then post requests or opportunities that are visible to their connections and to friends of friends that may offer useful introductions via email or in Cooper itself.
In fact, Gaal said that during the initial beta test, several people successfully used Cooper to find new jobs – sometimes after layoffs related to pandemics that they'd like to share with their inner circle but not want to send out into the world at large.
"There is more discovery, more confidence, and beyond that, you can reinvent other things – what the resume is, what mentoring is – if you have the right confidence first," he said.
Of course, simply sharing a calendar invitation with someone doesn't mean you trust them or know them well. Cooper may at some point consider other measures that may indicate your “connectivity” with someone, such as: B. How often do you email him, said Gaal. The first step, however, is simply to get back into the professional environment where you are comfortable and say, "Oh, you." Looking for a job? My friend is hiring. "
Yes, such conversations take place offline, but he noted that most of us can only remember "a handful of people" at a time. Cooper makes this “marketplace” much more visible and easier to follow.
The startup does not sell ads or user data. Instead, Gaal hopes to make money by charging membership fees for features like customizing your profile or promoting your request more broadly.
The startup's seed funding was led by Comcast Ventures. with the participation of LocalGlobe and 468 Capital.
"At a time when connectivity options are limited, Cooper is building a professional network that fosters meaningful and substantial connections," said Daniel Gulati, founding partner of Forecast Fund and former managing director of Comcast Ventures, in a statement. "We look forward to supporting the team on its further path."