We’ve all heard of dating apps and matchmaking apps. But here comes the Tinder of travellers. In my last article, I talked about the myriad need gaps and opportunities that the gig economy and the digital nomad lifestyle is throwing up for entrepreneurs. In this article, I’d like to showcase one such startup — Levo — whose which is playing matchmaker for networking nomads.
Uncertainty is probably the most defining feature of digital nomadic experiences. You’re not sure where you will be in a few months, you may not know if you will have work or earn the same amount of money as you do currently, etc. You just know that you will figure it out as you go along.
Levo, whose tagline is ‘Make the most of your travel time’, seeks to matchmake people who have similar travel itineraries, things in common and would be interested in meeting
Given this, you learn to make the most of opportunities and connections when they occur. A passing conversation while waiting for your flight can lead to your next gig, chatting up the local grocer can lead you to an accommodation that you’d never have found otherwise. So, these chance encounters with people outside of your network take on a lot of importance.
But what if it wasn’t left to chance anymore? That’s the question Levo is asking. The app, whose tagline is “Make the most of your travel time”, seeks to matchmake people who have similar travel itineraries, things in common and would be interested in meeting. Having spent years on long transatlantic flights next to a shrieking toddler while wishing someone interesting or cute, or both, was sitting next to me, I can definitely see the appeal of this app.
Rahul Maheshwari, who co-founded Levo with his childhood friend, Tarun Lala, explains the way it works. Once you book your flight, you send Levo your itinerary. The app then matches it with itineraries of other travellers with similar destinations, or at least those who will be at the airport around the same time, and these profiles are presented to you. The profiles display work information, education backgrounds, interests and mutual contacts.
In a Tinder-inspired act, you select them or not, except that here they are notified if you do pick a profile. If they pick you too, a chat box opens up, and you can make plans to catch up at the airport. If this ‘date’ sounds really promising, you can even ask to be seated next to them on the flight and the app will oblige.
“The online to offline connect normally takes a lot of effort, and people just end up connecting virtually,” Rahul explains. “With Levo, we make it easy to get to that offline meeting.”
Rahul points out that they prefer to “follow the user” on their journey. So, if the user ends up at a hotel in a new city or an event, they want to be able to extend the service in these situations too. Right now, Levo is available only for domestic travellers.
Make friends on the go
Levo has gone another step forward. Co-opting Bangalore Airport, they’ve managed to secure a space for this networking to take place, and they’re calling it the Levo Networking Lounge. The founders intend to hold speed networking events, and talks, among other things. In a space (airport) where strangers rarely talk to each other, entering the Levo experience centre signifies that you are open to networking.
Levo prefers to “follow the user” on their journey. So, if the user ends up at a hotel in a new city or an event, they want to be able to extend the service in these situations too
Kunal Sachdev used the app when he booked a flight to Raipur. “In 30 minutes, I had two connections. One of them was an acquaintance I hadn’t connected with in six years! He was on a different flight, but we decided to catch up at the airport. The other match was a startup founder who sounded very interesting, but I decided to meet my friend this time. I loved the experience and plan to use it whenever I’m traveling.”
This is a really cool example of a nomad-friendly service! In my own travels or even when I’m being nomadic in the city and cafe hopping, etc, unplanned conversations are my lifeline. Not only do they help connect you to new people and expose you to new ideas, I’ve landed two amazing projects doing what your mother always warned you not to do — talk to strangers.
For a lot of people though, the concept of going up and talking to a stranger without a shared context is unthinkable. And that’s where something like Levo makes all the difference. It is social grease, creating context in order to enable connections, even if that context is just a common flight path. That’s all we need sometimes, to get talking, or collaborating!
It is social grease, creating context in order to enable connections, even if that context is just a common flight path. That’s all we need sometimes, to get talking, or collaborating
As Tarun Lala, the cofounder of Levo, puts it, “Digital nomads often displace their time and place in search for newer experiences. We want Levo to be just that — an experience. With every new person you meet comes a new conversation. It is the conversation that matters — like the journey — and not the destination. Because, if the experience of the journey is great, there could be limitless destinations to arrive at.”
“A stranger is just a friend I haven’t met yet” — Will Rogers.
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