When Milwaukee Rowing Club
coach Will Bott went to Florida for the World Rowing Championships last year, there were a lot of acquaintances from the rowing community he wanted to catch up with. But there wasn’t an easy way to see who was there.
“I kept running into all of these connections and people I knew from California and Chicago and Boston,” Bott said.
While they weren’t all close friends, it would have been valuable to know they were also in the same place so they could connect, he said.
The wheels started turning, and Bott, 26, came up with an idea: an app that would provide a general geolocation for contacts and help them meet up. He calls it bLinkup
, and is working to raise a $150,000 seed round to launch it this summer.
“We think we found a market gap that we can really fit into pretty well. It’s super exciting,” said Bott, who established BlinkTech LLC in September.
bLinkup users can connect with their networks on the app, and each pair of connections agrees on a discovery distance— how close they need to be to get notified of their proximity.
“The thing that separates us from Find My Friends or Life360 or any of these other location apps, is we don’t ever share anybody’s exact location. We just share the radius we think they’re in,” Bott said, which has been appealing to users who value privacy.
Friends or business contacts could use bLinkup to meet up at the Fiserv Forum during a Bucks game, he said, or in a particular neighborhood. In June, bLinkup will have a meeting spot for users, called a bLinkPoint, at Summerfest.
“These are big venues where there is so much more potential for real connection than is currently happening,” Bott said.
Bott sees bLinkup as serving a higher purpose – connecting people for serendipitous face-to-face conversations.
“This could really increase the connectivity of the way that we go through the world,” Bott said. “So much of our social media and all of this interaction is taking place online and this is really a way to use technology to connect people in real life.”
And because it’s so geographic, Bott plans to expand it by city, starting with a strong user base in Milwaukee.