Tassos Papantoniou studied Shipping, Trade and Finance from 2006 – 2007 and has been juggling his day job as a yacht broker with his new venture, an app called ConnectID. He came to Cass to have a chat about this new direction.
Tell me about your time at Cass!
I did Shipping Trade & Finance, and to be honest, I wasn’t as focused as I should have been but I passed all my exams in August 2007. It was quite a change from my first degree, History & Philosophy, which I studied in the USA. This has remained of great interest to me, perhaps more so than Finance, as it turns out I am more of a creative person.
The course at Cass was a year long and I lived in central London. I didn’t tend to meet up with many people from my course, but I’ve found a few of them on LinkedIn since, and I regularly see some of them through my other business that is a yacht brokerage.
What did you do next?
After I graduated I started working for Torrance, a boutique yacht brokerage. They made me a partner, and I’m still working there today. We have had a good run with selling a 120 meter project now called MARAYA, the rebuild, charter and resale of Christina O and a healthy list of other very notable sales as well as chartering super-yachts.
How did you get the idea for ConnectID?
I had the idea for ConnectID about two years ago, and about a year ago, the idea finally solidified into the form it’s in today.
It came from going to boat shows, where I would give out so many business cards, and get around two or three hundred in return – by the end of the event you can’t remember anyone and you are left with a pile of cards to administer to a digital form if they are to be of use in the future! Once I started developing the idea, it became evident from our focus groups and chatting to people that people really want to be able to keep their address book up to date, and get rid of all that clutter, like having people’s old telephone numbers. Also with all the social networks we have today, we end up having the same person in 4-5 different places (emails, mobile, Whatsaap, Facebook, LinkedIn) so the idea is to have everything in one place with ConnectiD contacts. Basically, the idea was to tidy up everyone’s address books and create the first meta network that will keep everyone up to date as details change.
So, what does the app do?
The app can tidy up your personal contacts and ensure it stays updated as well as offering a service to organisations to keep their information up to date. It’s an app for everyday users to exchange details quickly and when you have some contact information that’s changed, everyone gets updated details based on what they already hold for you. It’s quick to use, you ask for one piece of information i.e mobile or email and you can exchange all or a subset of your contact details quickly – great for use in social or business situations, rather than having to, for example, give a phone number, swap email addresses, get their personal email and then find them on Facebook etc.
It gets even more interesting once you’re attached to an organisation that uses ConnectiD, you can then also see what information they hold on you, and update it, plus you can connect and collaborate with others members of the organisation to exchange a full set of details.
You can be attached to just one organisation, or to multiple organisations, and the same way you update everyone at once from your contacts, you update the organisations on the info they have for you at the same time, so next time you move house or change your number its just one simple update and everyone you share your details with will be updated without lifting a finger.
What have the challenges been?
There were a lot! I had never done anything technical before! I started this project so its been a challenging but equally rewarding journey. I partner with a company in Greece who had developed something similar in the past, and they have been invaluable in dealing with the nuances of contacts management since they took over the development. The app is much smarter now.
The whole idea is about one place that you can update everyone and everything. One or two years from now, I envisage that when you change your address, there will be no need to call, for example, Sky, EDF etc. The dream is that this app would be capable of updating them all at once. I want to organise the worlds contact information, be the number one source for updated information with users permission and be a go to hub for all other communications – it’s not a new social network you have the original social network in the contacts in your phone already, but ConnectiD will be the first true meta-network.
If you could start again from the beginning what advice would you give yourself?
I’m not sure I’d do anything differently if I went back to the start. I would still need to work with a strong technical team. I’d make sure they were someone who had prior experience of what I wanted to do and would iteratively build something of value for customers so I could test it in the market early.
It‘s important that whatever you do, you do it at the lowest cost possible, and you get your product out as soon as possible to get some learning and feedback from customers on it. As soon as you have a viable product, get it out there with good analytics in place and go from there. This process has taken over a year for me!
We’re in a healthy place now, but there have been a lot of ups and downs along the way. One month everything will be fantastic, the next it’s all scary looking. Believe in what you are doing and build a team that really believes in the idea, and together you’ll get there!
Finally, it’s the quick fire question round!
Favourite place in London: Cruising down the Thames
Favourite holiday destination: Caribbean
Must-visit every day website: Reuters News, or BBC news on the TV
Dream travel destination: I’ve been to everywhere I want to go!
Cheese or chocolate: Chocolate!
Download the ConnectID app for up to date contacts always, available on IOS or Android.