Mingle: A Location-Based Social Network with No Names or Usernames

December 5, 2011

10:09 am

Long Beach-based startup Mingle, founded in July, looks a lot like your typical location-based social network. Like Sonor, it lets you view and chat with people nearby, but it focuses on professional networking. This free iOS app has attracted over 37,000 downloads – I even found some users in Vietnam when I downloaded it.

But unlike many social networks, Mingle displays no names or usernames. In their place are “introductions”: most users put their job title, but others have intros like “Check Out My YouTube Channel It’s Hollyabigalemesser” or “Little More Than A Week And I’ll Be Headed For Afghanistan.” These come from fields on your Facebook or LinkedIn profile, which is how you log in to Mingle.

“Why display a name or username when its completely irrelevant?” says cofounder Andy Kim, who has twelve years of experience as a front-end programmer, designer, and developer. “Using a professional title as an identity label is far more interesting because this effectively creates ‘social x-ray glasses.’”

You can change those introductions depending on where you are, such as school, work, or a bar. You can also change the “why you’re here” field: to meet professionals, make friends, give advice, or find work. I think this is a slightly cumbersome task to do each time you change location, but Kim thinks it’s vital because we have changing personal and professional identities. Also, Mingle plans to let users type in exactly why they’re there, such as to find an Android developer. But I’d still love Mingle to automatically detect where I am and guess what intro I want.

In the future, Mingle plans to filter nearby users by “social context” – like suggesting that a soon-to-be-married woman introduce herself to a photographer or wedding planner. One way they’ll monetize is by offering monthly subscriptions for recruiters to find potential hires. To hear more about Mingle’s plans, meet the team at our Tech Cocktail LA mixer tomorrow night.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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