Curt and Rosie Harsch have been collecting business cards since they got into real estate nearly two decades ago. So they were enthusiastic when they heard about a virtual business card option called DropCard that could potentially simplify sharing contact information. The newly launched web application lets you send your contact information directly to someone’s email simply by sending a text message from your cell phone. There’s no charge for the basic service.
“I think it’s a great idea,” says Rosie Harsch of the Rosie Harsch Group LLC, a boutique Las Vegas agency licensed with Realty Executives of Nevada. “With technology moving so quickly, this is just another way to stay in touch.”
Neither Rosie Harsch nor her partner, Curt, would abandon paper cards. Instead, they explained, they’d use DropCard as a supplemental service. “We’d hand out our business cards if we met someone in person and then send a follow-up e-card,” she explains. But one way or another, they say they’d use it.
Since its launch last month, DropCard has been creating buzz among real estate professionals. In fact, the reception has been so warm that the three developers are revising their marketing efforts to focus on the real estate sector.
The service was conceived by three University of Pennsylvania students–Tal Raviv, Ariel Allon and Anton Bernstein–who said they didn’t know what to do with piles of business cards they had amassed. “We figured that in today’s digital age, business cards are pretty wasteful and often pointless,” explains Raviv, who says the idea began when he was an exchange student in Hong Kong.
“I realized how important it was to be connected on Facebook to find out about events, trips and what was going on. I was new, and had to build up my network from square one: I quickly realized that I was pretty bad at it. I figured there had to be a way for me to add someone as a friend as soon as I met them, right from my phone,” he recalls.
When he returned to Philadelphia, he pitched the idea to DreamIt Ventures, Philly’s seed startup fund and incubator. “They gave us a chance to prototype and launch over the summer,” Raviv says. So with help from Bernstein and Allon, they set out to build what was originally a much more social, college-targeted tool.
“Then, at the very beginning of our efforts, a startup called rmbrMe launched the same idea and focus–it is all about social networking in the social sense,” Raviv explains. RmbrMe allows users to send a socially networked friend request to people you meet in real life using text messaging.
Rather than duplicate the same services, the three students opted to reposition their product. “We decided to be the professional, direct version of real-life social networking,” he says. “We knew we didn’t have all the answers, so we decided to launch as quickly as possible with basic features and see what the market told us.”
The result: “incredible attention,” especially from the real estate community, Raviv enumerates. Many are describing DropCard as perfect for times you either forget or run out of business cards. “This was a trend that initially caught us by surprise, but one we quickly embraced,” Raviv points out.
DropCard is now specifically tailoring the product to real estate pros. It’s just launched a premium version of its free service and plans to start an affiliate program. “We are partnering with networking events and reaching out to real estate social network hubs,” Raviv continues. “The story’s just beginning.”