Business Cards Are So Last Year

Question: Where did the idea for rmbrME come from?

Gabe Zichermann: I am a pretty social person, so I meet a lot of people. I go to a lot of tradeshows and events and what I found was that after every event I had a huge pile of business cards and more so than the irritation at having to enter the business cards, which invariably meant that I didn’t do anything with them and just pushed them aside, was the fact that I realized that I didn’t remember half the people on those cards. They were fleeting moments. They were handshakes and maybe our interaction was meaningful at the time, but later at my office I didn’t know who they were and then it dawned on me that of course if I didn’t remember who they were, they didn’t remember who I was. So I said well, why can’t we solve the problem of people being able to make a meaningful socially networked connection and remember each other using these incredibly powerful computers that are in our pockets? I immediately took a look at the existing solution, the one that most people had thought about. When I say beaming contact information between phones, most people immediately think of the Palm Pilot, which had this functionality more than 15 years ago and one of the problems with the Palm Pilot solution was of course it was pretty kludge, like you took two phones and you pointed them at each other and you pressed the button and you waited and you didn’t want to shake it. You really have to hold still and then eventually a beep would go off and you’d press a button on both sides and yay, you’d shared a contact. Even if you could get over the hassle of that process, the reality was it only worked from Palm to Palm and that’s what doomed it of course as a nothing more than a gimmicky artifact of that particular era. We said well, there has to be a simple, easy to articulate and even easier to use solution for sharing contact information and discovering people who are meaningful business contacts and so from that came beamME.

I came up with the idea for beamME one day when I was just frustrated about the process. I had a long term friend, a guy by the name of Christopher Cunningham, who is a mobile entrepreneur who had sold his last company around the same time that I sold mine. We were good personal friends and I asked Chris to help me prototype the first versions of the product and at the end of the prototyping process I said, “Well Chris, you know I know that you’re enjoying your sort of relaxed lifestyle, so maybe you could help refer me to someone who might make a good CTO and cofounder.” Chris said, “Well, what makes you think that I’m not interested in doing that with you?” And I was like, “Well, this is a magical moment in our lives because I have a lot of respect for you.” “You’re clearly very technically literate.” “You’re in the right space and we’re friends and so hey, why not do this together?” So we started the company. Chris and I started the business really in earnest in 2007 and got to work here in New York City building beamME.

Recorded on October 22, 2009

Gabe Zichermann, the founder and CEO of rmbrME, could never remember anyone he’d met. So he started a business. This video is part of a "Profiles in Entrepreneurship" series with Start Out, which promotes entrepreneurship in the LGBT community.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less