If you want a case study in how to ensure people will never trust you as a startup, check out the Get Intro approach. Anyone else been spammed by GetIntro with some vague email saying that one of your connections has met another of your connections thanks to you through the GetIntro platform?
Started with an email a bit like this…
James and Simone [names changed to protect the innocent etc] have been introduced on INTRO. You are one of the many reasons they were connected.
If you think this is a good match and they could help each other in business then please do them a favour and endorse it on INTRO. INTRO is a business networking app that matches you to the people you’re looking for to increase your business connections.
Jump on INTRO to extend your business reach and find who you’re looking for.
Download the free app here [WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T DOWNLOAD THE FREE APP]
Blah Blah INTRO Labs
There is no unsubscribe option (not that I subscribed in the first place). I check out the website.
To be honest, it is pretty horrible for two reasons, the font is pretty illegible and it really isn’t very clear what you should do, how the whatever it is is supposed to work.
There are two buttons to download Android and iPhone versions of the app. To be honest, my spidey sense is already up a bit so I would want to find out a little bit more about the people behind the company.
- Who is backing it?
- Who is behind it?
- Where is the company based?
- How did it get my email address to spam me?
- How do I know my data is safe? How do I know my info won’t be used inappropriately?
First stop the about page. Nothing.
OK, the blog.
Mmm. Not much help there either.
How about the FAQs? (Pasted from the site into plain text so it is more legible)
Q – What is the security like around INTRO? How do I know my information will not be shared with others unless I allow it to be?
A – INTRO takes data from the social networks that you already use. It never displays your mobile number, and only shares your email address once you have Reached Out to another person and you have both accepted.
Q – Will information from INTRO be shared on my other social networks?
A – No, not unless you explicitly tell us that you want to share it. For example, if you are checking in at a certain venue on INTRO, you can send this alert out through your other networks. But you need to press a button to do this – it is never done automatically.
Q – How do you create introductions for me?
A – Introductions are based on three main things:
- The people you are looking for.
- The people nearby that have strong network connections to you.
- People in your industry with close degrees of separation to you.
We add little magic, and Voila! You have a ranked and personalized list of new people you should meet for business, waiting in your INTROS tab.
Q – How can I get INTRO to work better for me?
A – Tip number 1: Under the Profile tab, add in the social networks you belong to like Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare.
INTRO will show you the reasons to connect. Swipe the black bar with all the networks on it to the right. You will see the overlaps you share with the person within each network. This helps you see the connections and make sure you have a lot of stuff to talk about when you chat through the network or meet face to face.
Tip number 2: Reach Out.
See someone you want to connect with? Then make the first move. You must “Reach Out” or press “Accept” to connect.
Once a “Reach Out” has been accepted, the person moves to your CONTACTS, where you can chat with them.
There may be other new intros waiting, so it is important to action your current INTROS by “Reaching Out” or if you aren’t interested, deleting.
Tip number 3: Invite your contacts.
Did you know the valuable networking for business is done with casual acquaintances and people known indirectly? So invite the people you know to join INTRO. And get them to invite the people they know. It pays to invite your friends and contacts as you will get better connections and find people you want to do business with.
It’s worth noting that INTRO works best in big cities, and is particularly good at big conferences and events.
Q – What smart phones are you developing for?
A – Currently, INTRO has been developed for the iPhone, and will shortly be launched for Android phones. Windows and Blackberry will follow behind.
Not much help other than the fairly standard promises of most event and location based apps. Still not giving me much incentive to trust them though.
Only other option left on the site other than to just go right ahead, trust them with my data and download the app, would be to see the terms and conditions and then make a choice.
After all, the Ts and Cs will contain the legal entity for the company etc and if I was really desperate for the app, I might be prepared to take a chance. (I did think twice about pasting these – after all, they have probably spent thousands of dollars or pounds with a lawyer to get some nicely crafted words. But then I copied and pasted a bunch of the paragraphs, verbatim into Google, and discovered of course that they were exactly the same paragraphs that appear in so many other startup websites word for word.
“Terms and Conditions
You must be 18 years old to enter or use this website. By using this website you have represented and confirmed to us that you are at least 18 years old.
3. The services
This web site and the services provided to you on and via this web site are provided on an “AS IS” basis. You agree that the we reserve the right to modify or discontinue provision of this web site and its services, and to remove the data you provide, either temporarily or permanently, at any time, without notice and without any liability towards you. We will not be held responsible or liable for timeliness, removal of information, failure to store information, inaccuracy of information, or improper delivery of information.
4. Your responsibilities and registration obligations
6. Registration and password
You are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of your password, and you will be responsible for all usage of your user account and/or user name, whether authorized or not authorized by you. You agree to immediately notify us of any unauthorized use of your user account, user name or password.
Blah Blah Blah. Lots of legalese.
14. Notification of copyright infringement
If you believe that your property has been used in any way that could be considered a copyright infringement or a violation of your intellectual property rights, our copyright agent may be contacted via: e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
15. Applicable law
So English Law but based in San Francisco. no idea what the legal entity is called or where it is based.
Information Collection and Use
Our primary goals in collecting personally identifiable information are to provide you with the product and services made available through the web site, including, but not limited, to communicate with you, and to manage your registered user account, if you have one.
Information Collected Upon Registration. If you desire to have access to most of the services provided by the web site, you will be required to become a registered user, and to submit certain personally identifiable information to us. This happens in a number of instances, such as when you sign up for our services, or if you desire to receive marketing materials and information. Personally identifiable information that we may collect in such instances may include your IP address, full user name, hobbies and personal preferences, age, address, password, time zone, telephone number, and other information that you decide to provide us with, or that you decide to include in your public profile.
Additional Information Your full user name and your photo, if you decide to upload one, together with certain other information, are displayed to people in our network. Once a member, you may provide additional information in the profile section. Providing additional information beyond what is required at registration is entirely optional, but enables you to better identify yourself to help us deliver services to you. If you contact us by email through the Site, we may keep a record of your contact information and correspondence, and may use your email address, and any information that you provide to us in your message, to respond to you.
Use of Contact Information In addition, we may use your contact information to market to you, and provide you with information about, our products and services.
Log Data When you visit the Site, our servers automatically record information that your browser sends whenever you visit a website (“Log Data”). This Log Data may include information such as your IP address, browser type or the domain from which you are visiting, the web-pages you visit, the search terms you use, and any advertisements on which you click. For most users accessing the Internet from an Internet service provider the IP address will be different every time you log on. We use Log Data to monitor the use of the web site and of our services, and for the web site’s technical administration.
Information Sharing and Disclosure
Service Providers We engage certain trusted third parties to perform functions and provide services to us, including, without limitation, hosting and maintenance, customer relationship, database storage and management, and direct marketing campaigns. We will share your personally identifiable information with these third parties, but only to the extent necessary to perform these functions and provide such services, and only pursuant to binding contractual obligations requiring such third parties to maintain the privacy and security of your data.
Compliance with Laws and Law Enforcement We cooperate with government and law enforcement officials or private parties to enforce and comply with the law. We may disclose any information about you to government or law enforcement officials or private parties as we, in our sole discretion, believe necessary or appropriate to respond to claims, legal process (including subpoenas), to protect our property and our rights or those of a third party, the safety of the public or any person, to prevent or stop any illegal, unethical, or legally actionable activity, or to comply with the law.
We are very concerned about safeguarding the confidentiality of your personally identifiable information. We employ administrative, physical and electronic measures designed to protect your information from unauthorized access.
We will make any legally-required disclosures of any breach of the security, confidentiality, or integrity of your unencrypted electronically stored personal data to you via email or conspicuous posting on this web site in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay, consistent with (i) the legitimate needs of law enforcement or (ii) any measures necessary to determine the scope of the breach and restore the reasonable integrity of the data system.
Our Policy Towards Children
The Site is not directed to persons under 18. If a parent or guardian becomes aware that a person under 18 has provided us with personally identifiable information, he or she should contact us at e-mail to email@example.com. We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from persons under 18. If we become aware that a person under 18 has provided us with personal identifiable information, we will delete such information from our files.
That last bit is so sweet.
So it turns out
So with a little more ‘detective work’ aka emailing the two people I had allegedly helped put together, it turns out that they had both been in contact with the founder of Get Intro when he was raising money for another startup, Streetspark. Neither of them had been connected via Get Intro, and neither of them use the app, one of them had previously but had deleted it. They both reported getting similar emails from other investors, angels etc who were equally confused.
This may yet turn out to be one of the most brilliant strategies to get the attention of investors on the planet, or not.
Response on twitter.
I probably shouldn’t have been quite so rude to the guy on Twitter but this probably isn’t the best way to react to pissed off customers if you want to be known as a trustworthy NETWORKING organisation that people can trust. Ho hum.
If you are a startup, think about the image that you want to present to the world. Think about the things that people want to know –
- Can I trust you? (Don’t just say, ‘Yes, you can trust us’) Why should I?
- Can you show me who you are and why you are worthy of my trust?
- Show me why you care about protecting my personal information. (Spamming me in the first place is not a good start).
- If people complain about their privacy being breached, show you care (or not), in the way you react and behave.