Personal brands have been around forever. It’s just that we used to call them something else. Like famous people, or celebrities. But in the era of Tweets, Likes and LinkedIn requests, the idea that everyone can build a brand has caught on. While some of the consumer-facing activity in the internet sector has lost some sizzle, there’s still room to innovate. Icon’s Kent Savage is betting the old-fashioned business card is the right piece to build around.
“It’s just flawed the way it’s used,” he told me over the phone. Savage and his partner Matt Hovis describe their service as a “digital business card for the modern professional.” But hanging out a digital shingle is just part of the lure. For years, we’ve relied on walled networks and Google to serve up our online profiles. And that’s been an exercise filled with mostly crossed fingers.
“We looked at all the different systems and focused on the best way to pull a representation of someone’s online profile,” said Savage. “We then deliver that through all the touch points”, he added.
Savage says there’s no turnkey solution that builds on the notion of a “smart” business card. While there’s topic-driven aggregators like Twylah and personal pages from About.me, there’s a few things Icon does differently.Curating content you actually want people to see is one of the nicer things. So you say you don’t like that story or quip sucked in from your Twitter feed? Hit the “X” button and it’s gone. That’s something Icon’s competitors, namely About.me, aren’t doing today.
“About.me is just a big head-shot with an about section,” said Savage. “Where it falls short is a utility for being well suited for today’s communication.” With its fancy, magazine-like pages, and fine-grained control, the company is already seeing its community grow organically.
In addition to Icon’s aggregation and curation capabilities, the company also built what it calls a “commonality engine,” a part of the platform that addresses the buzz around the social graph. When it sucks in your Twitter followers and other social connections, Icon’s built-in analytics kick in to show you what you have in common. Based on that data, a word cloud is generated from keywords and topics extracted from Tweets and other social streams. Savage also mentioned the company is planning a search feature so you can find your buddies as they come online.
“We wanted to update the art of personal outreach and contact exchange, while maintaining what was once important about business or calling cards – a degree of formality and presentation. Our product suite helps people present their professional persona in the strongest way, while also growing their personal brand,” added Savage.
He and Hovis say they started the company in June 2012 with $500K in Angel Funding and are poised to receive a Series A round commensurate with the current roll-out. So head over to Icon.me and grab your profile. Just in time for SXSW.