Networking can sometimes be a challenge.
But a new tech startup hopes to make it easier to create waves.
Earlier this year, Colorado Springs-based RipTide launched a mobile app by the same name that's designed to help business professionals improve their profits through word-of-mouth referrals.
"Through predictive analytics, we use information about how you network to make you a better networker," said Diane Snead, co-founder and CEO of RipTide.
The app's tagline - "networking is more fun when it gets results" - reflects the company's goal of providing data for business professionals who network to improve their skills.
The app has three parts: tracking, scoring and improving, Snead said.
The app tracks individuals and networking groups and their activities. Networking groups are professionals who meet regularly to learn about one another's businesses and to pass along referrals. Using the app, a group leader can track members' progress.
Traditionally, the tracking process would take place on paper with group members jotting down how many colleagues they spoke with; the app allows users to digitally input who they met with and to whom they passed along referrals.
The app's second part, scoring, "gives people a networking scorecard to let them know how they're doing," Snead said. The scorecard's details are still being developed, she said.
The app's final component employs data to give users insights on how to improve their networking skills.
"It's important for people to keep track of their progress and this is what that app can do," said Tom Young, RipTide's other co-founder.
With the app, networking efforts go further and provide tools to close business, according to RipTide's website.
"We can see who your top referral is and prompt you to meet with them more on a one-on-one basis," Snead said. "The app also looks at how you're networking versus how your competition is networking."
One of RipTide's goals is to use technology to help foster professional relationships.
"I've compared the app to an exercise or step counter app to monitor health," Young said. "This is where that app fits in the sales realm."
RipTide's founders are fundraising to roll out the app nationwide.
"We're definitely very cognizant of using investors' money wisely and giving them a return," Young said.
The co-founders met about a year ago and talked about working together.
Young owns Intuitive Websites, a digital marketing company, and supports RipTide through his background in sales, sales management and digital marketing.
"I understand what sales people are going through and how networking groups function," Young said.
The app's name reflects the definition of a riptide - an underlying force that pushes forward.
"I wanted a name that was a good metaphor for networking," Snead said.
She worked as a mechanical engineer for seven years, and decided to switch from engineering to entrepreneurship.
"I saw by running my own company I had better control of my own destiny," she said.
RipTide is not Snead's first entrepreneurial venture.
In 2009, she launched Type A Professional Organizers, a productivity consulting firm. When the recession hit, she closed the company after three years and returned to mechanical engineering.
"I made a lot of mistakes," Snead said with a laugh as she talked about the poor timing of starting a business during the recession.
Still, she used her experience and turned it into a new endeavor.
Recognizing that networking was a critical asset, Snead said it took about a year and discussions with several hundred people about networking or RipTide to take shape.
"We have a network of people, but we're not doing anything to maintain it," she said. "People still are the most important asset and that's not going to change."
RipTide's owners say they're targeting a nationwide launch for the app next year.
"The biggest challenge is there are so many moving parts and it's a lot of work to keep things moving," she said.
Although RipTide is still in the development stages, Young and Snead say it can be used by larger organizations.
"A sales manager could look at his or her sales team and see how they're doing through this," Snead said. "It's going to help people in a bigger way."
While still working toward the app's national rollout, the company's website - www.riptidego.com - offers a free downloadable eBook with tips and tools for networkers to build relationships.