Meeting People Can Be Awkward: Enter Nawkr

Nawkr

If you’re a curious sort of person, you might have experienced this situation: you’re out and about and you notice an interesting-looking stranger. Maybe he’s reading a book you enjoyed or designing something cool on his laptop. You want to engage him, but you don’t want to come off as intrusive, nosy, or — worse — creepy. Angel Armendariz calls it the “coffee-shop conundrum:” you’re at a social space full of interesting people, but you can’t actually meet any of them.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while—how to connect people,” Armendariz, business developer, entrepreneur, and co-founder of Nawkr, says. “I’ve been trying to crack that nut of bringing people together without people having to be bold and go up to someone, which can be inconvenient.”

Not to mention awkward. Approaching a stranger carries a stigma. They smile and nod and wonder what you want from them. Money? A date? A favor?

“I met my wife on Tinder, so if not for that type of random network, I would not be married right now,” says Nawkr creator Angel Armendariz. “It made me realize how powerful it can be when you can communicate with the people around you.”

Enter Nawkr, an iPhone app that utilizes geolocation-based technology for the purpose of streamlined connection. It has been touted as the “Tinder for everything else,” and essentially works on the premise that although meeting new people can be uncomfortable, everyone is looking to meet someone for some reason or another. In the app, you can curate your network by selecting whether you’re interested in connecting for business purposes (maybe you’re looking for clients or services), education (say you’re seeking a study group), or just for fun (if you’re curious to see who else is sipping a margarita at 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon). You then set your location radius—from 50 feet to 500 miles—which allows you to see who else is available in your direct area. If you want to chat with them, you hit the icon shaped like a knocking hand (Nawkr, knocker, get it?) to request a connection. If they’re interested they can accept. If they’re not interested, they can decline. Once connected, you can chat directly through the app. And, if someone turns out to be creepier than you bargained for, you can always block them. (“Safety is a big part of it, too,” Armendariz says. “You can thank my wife for that.”) You can also post or view a local livestream.

The idea behind Nawkr may sound intuitive, and simple to the point of seeming like the kind of thing that already exists. But the truth is, this idea has potential.

“There is a lot of communal benefit to this. Our primary objective is to add value and to utilize the possibilities,” Armendariz says. “I met my wife on Tinder, so if not for that type of random network, I would not be married right now. It made me realize how powerful it can be when you can communicate with the people around you.”

“Everybody is looking for somebody, whether it’s a client, a significant other, a basketball buddy, or someone to play video games with,” Armendariz says. “This technology allows the people who are anonymous to no longer be anonymous.”

With Nawkr, a new student at a college campus has easy access to the profiles of folks nearby, allowing him or her to bypass that awkward lonely freshman stage and immediately begin building a network. A professional at a business convention who might not have the time to meet everyone there can use Nawkr to connect to the people who might be the most useful. Essentially, you can find the people who suit your needs and approach them without the awkward in-person icebreaking stage that often prevents connections.

Angel Armendariz and his brother and Nawkr co-founder, Eric, launched a beta version of Nawkr on New Year’s Eve, and asked about 10 Uptown bars promote the app. The result was a socially networked block party with very positive feedback. The Armendariz brothers will also be promoting their app at the SxSW Interactive Festival, representing Dallas at the Startup Spotlight venue. At the moment, they’re working to build their Dallas network. They have high hopes of expanding their network in the coming months.

“Everybody is looking for somebody, whether it’s a client, a significant other, a basketball buddy, or someone to play video games with,” Armendariz says. “This technology allows the people who are anonymous to no longer be anonymous.”


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