Colmeia founder Andrea Sommer tells us more about the innovative app improving networking experiences, along with some handy tips and business advice for young entrepreneurs thinking about launching their own business. Can you tell us about yourself and your team? I’m a Brazilian-born German who studied in the US and now lives in the UK, so I consider myself a citizen of the world. I’m a bit of geek -- I love the power and potential of technology and I also love science fiction. I’ve worked my whole career in the tech space and Colmeia is the culmination of this experience. My team is very diverse – something I’m really proud of. Different points of view are really important when you’re building something disruptive – it is a little bit like trailblazing, so there are no rules. Diversity provides a true competitive advantage in these scenarios. We’re 50-50 split between men and women and represent 9 countries (Brazil, Argentina, Germany, UK, Austria, Greece, France, USA & Japan) between 8 of us. It makes for a lot of very heated and interesting discussions but, most importantly, it makes for a strong, well-rounded product. What is Colmeia and how does it work? Colmeia is a networking assistant designed to support users in keeping track of people they meet using their mobile device’s built-in capabilities. Leveraging advanced geolocation technologies along with the power, resilience and agility of analytics and cloud storage, Colmeia can be discreetly used to enable users to identify the people they want to meet at an event and never miss or forget a contact again. Colmeia is designed for networkers of any level who attend more than five formal or informal events (trade shows, conferences, gatherings) per year. This includes students, sales professionals, marketers, technical experts and professional networkers, in particular those who suffer from memory loss during and after networking and those who feel they have missed out on networking opportunities. How did you come up with the idea for Colmeia? I have a terrible memory! I’ve been in a number of situations where I’ve forgotten people’s names, which in a networking context has led to a lot of missed opportunities (and some embarrassing situations). And I’m not alone! Networking related amnesia is a huge problem -- it hinders career progression and leads to missed opportunities. Research shows 80% of people forget the name of someone they’ve just met and 60% say they’ve missed an opportunity because of it. It’s particularly a problem for women, who often feel anxious about networking and aren’t able to access professional and senior networking circles. This keeps them from advancing in their careers and accessing capital to start or grow their business. I searched high and low for a solution to this problem and when I found nothing, I decided I wanted to build it. What does “Colmeia” mean? “Colmeia” means “beehive” in Portuguese. We think it’s a pretty unique name and captures perfectly both our mission to improve the networking experience and the diversity of our team. The idea around the hive is that the technology will help create a sense of connectedness – and will help bring people closer. Can you describe your business model? Colmeia’s business model is two sided. For users, the app is completely free with unlimited access to all basic features. There is a premium version that will provide personal analytics, so if you’re looking for a job or if you’re in sales, this tool could come in very handy. Colmeia is designed to be used at events, so the other side of our model is providing data to event organizers so they can improve the experience of those who attend their events. How have you been funded so far? We’re a very lean organization and we’ve been able to bootstrap the bulk of our development so far. We were also lucky to have been selected to be a part of the London Business School Incubator last year. Through the incubator, we also were awarded some funding and mentorship from the Deloitte Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In your opinion, what is the most challenging part of starting a business? Finding the right people to create and preserve the culture of the organization. It is really important for people to have the right skills and we don’t compromise on that. But cultural fit is really important too. We are a really flexible and flat organization and, like most start-ups, it is very self-directed so you have to have this drive to build without being told. This is hard to find and is hard to sustain as well. What piece of advice would you give to a young entrepreneurs aspiring to or currently building their own startup? Go for it, but don’t go alone. It is so much more fun to take this journey as a team and your chances of success are much higher! What are your plans for the future of Colmeia? We need to finish building the product and begin commercializing it. We’ve gotten agreement from some great brands to use the app in its initial phase but some requirements will be needed. And then we need to grow – we really dream of getting this app in the hands of every mobile user who networks. Follow our updates on Twitter (@thecolmeia) or on our LinkedIn page. Thanks Andrea and all the best for the future of Colmeia! If you would like to find out more about this ingenious app why not visit Colmeia's website?