Plain Sight, a mobile application that helps users connect in shared spaces in real time, has launched in Detroit. The app is designed to help people find new clients, recruits, and people with whom to collaborate.
“The way we work is rapidly changing, but the way we actually connect with people is still a broken process,” says James Chapman, founder and CEO. “Nearly half a billion mobile workers around the world are missing out on profitable opportunities to connect because they are making blind decisions about where to work and who to work alongside.
“Additionally, networking at random often results in time wasted on connections that don’t align with your career goals. With Plain Sight, we are allowing people to be intentional about where and who they connect with – allowing them to build purposeful relationships wherever they are, putting them in the right place at the right time.”
Plain Sight has raised $500,000 in pre-seed money from angel investors including Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans.
“People tell me all the time that for them to reach success, they need a proper seat at the table or to know the right rooms to be in,” says Chapman. “Plain Sight makes that possible. There are a lot of talented people that go unnoticed. If you have the skills and ideas to be successful, you shouldn’t be stifled because you weren’t born in a certain zip code or family.”
Plain Sight offers services for two target audiences: individuals and places. Places include shared spaces such as coffee shops, events, co-working spaces, conference locations, hotel lobbies, and airports.
For individuals, the platform notifies users when people with the professions they are looking for check in at a place near them. There are no names or profile pictures, eliminating unconscious bias and helping users connect based on skills, interests, and goals.
Spaces have access to an interactive dashboard so they can see background information on users who have checked into the space. This allows the spaces to curate events and experiences. They will also be able to customize notifications sent in real time to people in their spaces and the community.
Plain Sight had a soft launch in June and has nearly 30 spaces listed on the platform throughout Detroit and Washington, D.C. In the next year, Chapman plans to expand to other cities he identifies as entrepreneurial centers – Atlanta, New York City, and San Francisco.
“Oftentimes, the exact person that we need to meet, the exact person that could open up a door for us to get on the other side of success, goes to the same coffee shop as us, is in the same airport, or at the same restaurant,” says Chapman. “They are hiding in plain sight. We are on a mission to eliminate any missed opportunities and help the go-getters of the world find their next thing – or the next big thing.”
The company is completing a two-day scavenger hunt today. Users who downloads the app, complete their profiles, check into qualifying spaces, and message the Plain Sight account feedback or suggestions will be entered to win. Details are available here.
Chapman moved to Detroit from Tennessee and spent the last three years as the director of entrepreneurship for the Quicken Loans Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of Detroit’s Quicken Loans. He spearheaded the launch of the Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day, an annual entrepreneurial pitch competition for Detroit-based businesses and those willing to relocate to the city.
In three years, the program has provided nearly $3.5 million in funding to businesses throughout the city, most of which are minority- and women-owned. Chapman has also provided mentorship, consultation, and networking opportunities for the associated companies.