Apps / Career development / Cryptocurrency / Events / Social media

How the ‘Blockchain Czarina’ became a networking app founder

Andrea Tinianow was an influencer looking for a better way to connect people. With the help of her kids, Connector Street was born.

A family business: Andrea Tinianow and her children David and Sarah Unterberger of Connector Street. (Photo by Holly Quinn)

So, you’re at a networking event, or coworking space, or coffee shop, and you meet someone who would benefit from an introduction to someone else in your social network. You tell them you’ll connect them. You make a note of it on their business card. Later, you can’t find the business card. Or you forget. Or you’d just rather be relaxing after work than spending an hour creating introduction emails.

This is the problem Andrea Tinianow set out to solve four years ago.

“I started this because I make lots of connections, and I thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way,'” she said.

At the time, Tinianow worked for CSC as assistant general counsel and VP of business development. One day she came home after a long workday and mentioned to her teenage son and daughters that she wished there was an app that allowed users to connect people with a couple of clicks.

Her kids, David, Sarah and Lauren Unterberger, were in agreement: She needed to make the app. Over the next years, they would be instrumental in the design of that app as it was developed.

Now a blockchain consultant and chief innovation officer for Global Kompass Strategies, known in the industry as the “Blockchain Czarina,” Tinianow was intimidated at first by the idea of creating an app.

“I didn’t know anything about social networks,” she said at the Millennial Summit, where she officially launched the app, Connector Street. “I didn’t know anything about anything.”

It took over two years to find the right group of developers. “There were a lot of fails, because this is actually three apps in one — Android, iOS and a web app — and they all have to work together.”

For her daughter Sarah, now 19 and a student at Tufts University, it’s been an opportunity.

“I feel like it happened almost in a dream,” she said. “One day my mom was just like, ‘I have this idea, I have this vision.’ She wanted us to help her, so we’ve been helping as the app has become more and more developed.”

She designed the marketing materials, including the printed banner she’s standing by when we meet. Lauren, now 17 and a student at Mount Pleasant High School, has helped her sister design the website and sometimes writes blog posts.

Much of the help came in the form of simply being young and in tune with social media.

“We’ve gone through a lot of different designs and templates,” Tinianow said. “We’d ask the kids, ‘Do you like this, or do you like this? What words should we use?’ They’re so involved with social media and apps. They would say, you know, ‘No, you can’t say that mom, that’s not going to work. It needs to be faster, quicker, more fun.’ I really trust them, so their input has been invaluable.”

David, now 22, just graduated from Bates College. He spent much of the day at the Millennial Summit demonstrating the Connector Street app.

“I was in college while the app was being developed, so I’d come home and hear about what’s been going on with it,” he said. “Today was really the realization point that I know this app well, and I’m so excited to talk about it.”

In a short demo, we learned that, to make the most of it, you need to import your contacts. When you meet someone and want to make a connection, you open the app and input their contact info, along with snapping an optional photo. Then you pull up the person you want to connect them to from your contacts and with a click, you’ve sent each a text or email with a pre-filled, customizable introduction.

“They get your contact info, too, so you don’t need a business card,” added Sarah.

And, as you might expect from someone called the Blockchain Czarina, the app, which was written in Python, is very secure.

“We used blockchain coders, so they know all about cryptography and ensuring that the data is completely protected,” said Tinianow. “It’s not on a blockchain, but it can be blockchain enabled.”

The app can also be used socially, as a career search tool, and even as a dating app.

You can give Connector Street a spin in its beta form by downloading it for free in the Apple or Google Play app stores.

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