A while back, we reported on a few Swiss startups that we think will make it big. Since then, I’ve tested out two of the services mentioned in the article: Spontacts and Connexio. While these two services could not be any more different, they do have one thing in common: People. It’s about connections.
Upstairs in a room that is wonderfully assembled from pieces one would collect at the Salvation Army, we talked about Spontacts and social life in Switzerland.
Spontacts is a word constructed from spontaneous and contacts (or is it acts ?). Users download and install the app on their smartphones and complete a profile. In the profile you state what kind of activities you’re interested in, whether it be just going for coffee, to climbing, to going to the opera, almost everything is listed.
How Spontacts Works
What happens then is the following: Say you’re like me and you want to go for a run. Your friends aren’t always free to go when you can, and you don’t really feel like going alone. Open Spontacts and put a shout out. Say what you want to do, where and when and a short personal message and shout it out.
Those interested in that activity and in the general vicinity (i.e. the city you live in) will get a message that they can either respond to as "coming" or "interested", and there you go.
I started off by telling Peter that I am a Spontacts user. He was interested in what kind of things I’ve used it for. I told him that I went running with someone, just a light 17 km jog along the river and I met up with another person in Clouds, Zurich’s new trendy restaurant and bar on top of Switzerland’s tallest building. Two complete strangers and two very enjoyable meetings.
Of course, at each meeting one of the first topics of conversation is always about using Spontacts. You are, of course, meeting strangers. Up to now I have only heard good stories and the Spontacts community and administrators do a good job making sure that users are not abusing it.
Peter assured me that as the app develops, more features will be added. Right now, unless one willingly gives out a telephone number or e-mail address, communication between users happens either in person or via the app.
With a great base of users in Switzerland, Germany and Austria, Spontacts is looking to spread throughout Europe and overseas. No doubt some of the traveling users will help give Spontacts good reviews when they are abroad.
Other than just spontaneously meeting new people, Spontacts also allows people to plan events. In cooperation with Swiss travel expert Hotelplan, Spontacts planned a Mediterranean cruise for the spring for which about a dozen people signed up.
The list of possible activities is amazing. I’ve even seen people looking for travel partners to South East Asia! How would that be for a spontaneous trip? If you’re not yet that adventurous, how about a coffee and cake in a quaint café?
So, who’s on Spontacts?
Though many might think that "Spontaneous Swiss" is an oxymoron, there are lots of Swiss people using Spontacts. At present, Zurich has the highest penetration, with many Swiss, Germans and expats using the service.
The age range is generally from people in their 20's and up. If you’re looking to get out and meet some new people, especially those hard-to-find Swiss, this is a great app. Though many are using it in German, almost everyone will switch to English if English is being used, but then why not use it as a language learning tool and start practicing German?
The other program I started using is Connex.io. I’ve been using Apple since 2003 and have always loved the integrated services, but iCloud has made a mess of my contacts. On top of that, I have contacts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
And many of my friends are getting married and changing their names so I have the same Melanie (my sister) under Mel Langenegger, Melanie Langenegger and her married name Melanie DaPonte.
What is Connex.io?
Connex.io is not another social network, but rather it allows you to merge all those contacts and makes one complete person profile, saving it to your devices. If someone changes their address on Facebook or their place of employment on LinkedIn, their contact information changes automatically in Connex.io. Great program to keep you organized, and it works with all your devices.
The two Swiss startups Spontacts and Connex.io are helping people to get together — whether that be meeting someone new or making sure that you don’t lose contact with your existing friends and business associates.