Chatfé is a new kind of social platform that lets you have anonymous phone conversations with like-minded people, and I recently got the opportunity to talk with Paul Orlando, CEO of Chatfé, to learn more about this social networking tool. To see part 1 of this interview and a comparison of Chatfé and Chatroulette, check out this post.
I came across an interesting point on Chatfé’s blog when Paul Orlando, CEO of Chatfé, described Chatfé as an antidote to the conversations sparked by smokers bumming a cigarette. In my recent conversation with Paul, he said he thought that while NYC’s cigarette tax is a good thing overall, it extinguished a conversational spark that existed for the last 50+ years. When people ask strangers for a cigarette or a light, it’s often an excuse to talk to someone. Paul notes that, “smokers were members of a culture that had a built in mechanism to talk to another person without any pressure. Now that that’s gone, I hope that Chatfé can bring forth another conversational spark.”
Chatfé recently won the Best Business Viability award at Microsoft’s BizSpark, for which one of the evaluation criteria was how it addresses a business problem. Chatfé succeeded in this category, Paul notes, because the technology and platform enable individuals and businesses to engage with people in a different way where text is not enough. People can have an opt-in, free-flowing conversation and go deeper into learning.
This past February, Paul presented at Dorkbot on his experience on what happens when connections are totally random and when they’re completely filterable. Paul calls Chatfé the “reverse of a social network,” in that they’re working on getting people to speak to one another instead of relying on text and images. They want to move beyond the popularity of things like Twitter followers, Facebook friends, profile images, etc. and bring conversations back to voice, surrounding topics people really care about. Paul calls it a “pleasant wrong number experience.”
So who is Chatfé for exactly? Well, on their website, they say it’s for everyone, including entrepreneurs, students, artists, club-crawlers, sports-lovers, and language learners… basically anyone looking to talk about different topics or spark a debate. Paul mentioned, however, that they’re “exploring working with a non-profit customer who would benefit from using Chatfé technology to enable their members to connect. A support group that connects qualified members confidentially and anonymously by phone would be a great way to do that.”
No matter how Chatfé evolves in the coming months or years, it is certainly a breakthrough concept that will be interesting to follow and see how it can be put to use either personally or within various industries.