What is WaitList in essence?

It happens sometimes: You meet a random stranger in public and it turns out that you can actually add value to each other’s life. You find a common interest or give each other advice. You have an insightful conversation, you stay in touch. You become friends or even collaborators. In the history of mankind until today, the occurrence of such encounters has been left to chance: they happen. And most of the time, they do not happen. WaitList is a way to make them happen.

WaitList is a virtual pin wall for transitory public spaces: Spaces where people who don’t know each other are assembled and spend a lot of time together without much to do. By far the best example for such a space is the waiting area of an airport and hence we focus on this use case. By publishing your profile on WaitList you signal to other people in the same airport area that you are available for spontaneous communication and indicate what kind of exchanges would be valuable to you. It is like attaching a huge business card to your head for people to see what you are interested in and to allow them to contact you if they have something you are looking for.

This is a design draft from our early days — our logo and aesthetics have evolved since!

Let me illustrate this with my own situation: Ever since I started WaitList I am looking for people to work with. It would be extremely valuable for me to know if there is a potential co-founder, UX designer, or developer in my immediate surrounding when I am waiting at the airport, because I could use the time to convince them to join my company. And even if recruitment is not an option, just extending my network and getting feedback from new people inspires me and helps me sharpen my ideas. Without technology it is extremely difficult to find out which of my fellow travelers would be available and interested in this kind of a spontaneous meetup.

The market of megalomaniac startuppers like me who have this problem is growing at an astonishing rate. Young urban professionals increasingly pursue their own entrepreneurial or artistic projects, turning into digital nomads who need to build their own professional network. And they realize that face-to-face interaction is indispensable so they pay a lot of money to be in physical proximity with likeminded people in co-working spaces like WeWork or betahaus. They form communities around shared interests on meetup.com and they use the tinder-like business networking app shapr.

The problem with all these solutions is that they are costly in terms of money, time and planning effort. Going to a meetup means taking time out from your daily routine, blocking the evening in your calendar and traveling to a place on the other side of town. Arranging a meeting with a stranger (who you are not romantically interested in) on shapr is prohibitively cumbersome. Thus, existing solutions are only viable for the most determined and flexible digital nomads.

There are many apps that allow for communication between people who do not know each other yet

WaitList on the other hand does not require you to go anywhere or spend any extra time. It connects you with the people who already happen to be in the same space as you, because for instance they are waiting for a flight at the same airport. The people you find here might not be as interesting as the ones you could have met at the meetup. But they are already here right now, so at least you can easily meet them.

But WaitList is not just for startuppers and digital nomads. Humans love to communicate in general. When you travel alone and you have a long wait at an airport, chances are that you will check your social media and use it to communicate with people all over the world. Nevertheless, there is currently no way to communicate with the people sitting right next to you. Almost everyone has interests that are shared by other people and best pursued in real-world communities. Acroyoga, philosophy, techno music, social drinking, football — whatever it is that you’re into, it is likely that there is someone around you who is also in one of your communities and would enjoy exercising it with you. WaitList makes these opportunities visible.

(A few communities already have ways for members to recognize each other when they happen to be at the same place: Football fans make themselves clearly visible and audible and join forces with other fan groups when they are traveling to a match on the same train. Dancers have Facebook groups where they post when they find themselves at an airport for a long time, to see if there are other dancers to practice with.)

Even if there is no one from your community around, there might be someone you could form a temporary micro-community with! Everyone has something they need help with. And everyone can help with something. WaitList brings these people together. It is a new market place for ultra-spontaneous networking and information exchange.

Our world is now connected and safe enough to make that kind of communication possible. We are ready to share with strangers not just our homes and cars but also our time. And we have the means to arrange this logistically. The technology just hasn’t been built yet. WaitList closes this gap.

User testing and feedback at Geneva Airport

We successfully tested a minimum viable product with our partner airports in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Geneva. Follow our story on twitter, Facebook, instagram, YouTube and sign up on www.waitlist.tech to receive a link to the beta app when it comes out in November!