I was quite excited when I read today about the launch of  the new ‘professional networking’ app, Ripple. LinkedIn has its merits, however, there’s definite room in the market for a new, truly mobile-first alternative. So, like I imagine many people did after reading about it on TechCrunch, I rushed to download it to my Samsung S8…

Background

Before I talk about my first impressions, I wanted to cover some of the key detail around Ripple. Their CEO and co-founder is Ryan Ogle, former CTO of Tinder. Tinder has been mildly successful, so this ogres well for Ripple’s future. In-fact, the founding team consists of two further Tinder c-suite members. Nice. The venture is backed by Match, so some big clout all-round.

Right, I’ve downloaded it…

Firstly, it was 10 places down on the Google Play search results for ‘Ripple Professional Networking’. Not ideal. They are up against the crypto-currency of the same name, which isn’t easy, particularly in the midst of crypto-mania.

Time for on-boarding. Add phone-number, easy. Enter verification code sent via SMS and press Go…

Nothing happens. Send another code. Enter. Nada.

Come on! Again. Nothing.

Full-scale crash. Ouch.

Let’s try again…

Sweet, I got past the verification code. Time to set up profile. Ah, ‘import from Twitter’, nice. Crash. Right, this time I’ll try Google. Crash and indeed smash. One last shot. Manually enter name, job title and company. Worked. Boom!

Time to add profile pic. Select my standard shot…

Yes, you guessed, crash. Arghghghhghggh.

You can see the pattern emerging here.

Fast-forward

Eventually I got the point of having a profile etc. Time to try the app out for real. First thing I get see is this:

Ripple app profile snap

This is Tinder-style yeah? So I swipe left and see what happens. I’m immediately connected to Rob. No offence Rob, but I would have l liked a some kind of confirmation request or chance to intro myself.

If any new professional network is to add value, surely it has to have more considered means of connecting? One of LinkedIn’s biggest failings is the frictionless connection request via mobile, this leads to hollow, vanity connections.

Once I’ve done this a few times, I don’t really know what else to do. Yes, it’s day one, however, there’s no more on-boarding post-signup. Take this search option for example, what do I search for?

How about adding more about my work, background etc? Tapping the head icon gives options for this, but no-more than adding a title etc. Zero chance to really tell people what you’re all about.

Massive Meh

I know it’s launch day, if the product is 40% complete I’d be surprised, but you have to offer more after that initial download. It’s painfully buggy and when it does work, it’s very hard to see the immediate hook or value. I have emailed them, in-fact, I did it after the first crash. I think they went too early, the PR is very minimal, out-with Techcrunch, which can be a curse and may well have been this time.

Update 09.01.18 – I tried to log-in today, and it asked me to add my phone number and then enter a SMS verification code. That’s really poor.

Here’s hoping they can fix fast and get some momentum, as there’s a huge opportunity here…

Header image via Shutterstock.

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