Andrew Carlson is the first to admit he isn’t the most vocal person at a party — but even he knew 30 people trying to talk over each other at a virtual happy hour isn’t the solution to socially distant socializing.
“Right now everybody’s staring at each other behind the screen A one-on-one conversation is fairly human, but as soon as you introduce 10 more people and you’re all in the same room, it reduces the humanity quite a bit,” Carlson, entrepreneur and technical architect at VMLY&R, said of the genesis for his latest creation — Mixaba.
“The idea is small groups that you don’t talk over. Little groups of people that you can actually make a meaningful connection with,” he explained of the free video conferencing platform that randomly assigns members of a chat to smaller breakout rooms every 15 minutes
Click here to use Mixaba for your next virtual hangout.
Developed almost overnight — the result of a virtual happy hour hangover — Carlson believes the platform could humanize a variety of virtual interactions as they become a mainstay of modern culture, he said.
“I started playing around with ideas of how to bring back some of the feel of an in-person social event to a remote-first event and kept circling around this idea of ‘collisions,’ or serendipitous encounters,” Carslon explained.
“Tony Hseih of Zappos talks a lot about these encounters, but basically these encounters with other people draw out new ideas and connections that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.”
From speed dating to design thinking sprints, Mixaba aims to bring such collisions back to connecting with no physical proximity required, Carlson said.
“There have been a bunch of ideas that I had never even considered … that people have brought up and I’m really excited about that,” he said, noting he went into development of Mixaba — which is now in the open Alpha phase — with a fairly narrow user case in mind.
“For me personally, I’m very bad at social events and about sticking with the same group of people. … I’ll pretty much stay within my comfort zone and that’s a weakness of mine. But what this helps me with personally, is that exposure to new people,” he said.
“I think that oftentimes we take technology to the furthest extent and it dehumanizes the people who are behind the screens. Our intent is to bring back that human interaction.”
Interaction with consumers exploring Mixaba is another priority for Carlson as the product continues to develop.
“More than anything, I would love to see how people start using it,” he said. “I think there’s a lot to explore around making interactions online more human, and trustworthy. I’d love to see this become a go-to app that people use when they can’t be physically close to people but want to make remote parties and events more fun.”
Users are encouraged to share feedback using Mixaba’s live chat feature or with Carlson on social media.
Mixaba is Carlosn’s second entrepreneurial endeavor in a year. In 2019, he launched Paloma Post — a customizable greeting card startup — alongside friend Julie Korona.
Click here to read more about Paloma Post which is currently retooling.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.