• WisBusiness

Cardigan in the hands of serial entrepreneur Matt Younkle
12/1/2017

A high percentage of startup businesses fail due to the competitive and risky nature of entrepreneurship. However, this statistic seems to have little effect on Wisconsin native Matt Younkle.

Younkle has achieved strong success with several entrepreneurial endeavors, TurboTap being one example. Now, he’s embarking on his next big project.

He recently launched Cardigan LLC, an app that allows people to trade professional contact information -- now dominated by paper business cards -- directly from phone to phone. This latest startup was spotlighted as part of an ongoing startup profile series written by UW-Madison students.

Younkle’s plan involves putting initial focus and energy into the app itself, rather than promoting immediate growth. The first challenge is to create the ideal product to capture and maintain engaged users.

Younkle has teamed up with co-founder Jim Remsik, a long-time friend and business associate. Remsik deals with developing the Cardigan app while Younkle focuses on getting the app off the ground and into user’s hands.

“I view my value-add as going from idea, to product, to market. That’s the sweet spot that I operate in,” Younkle said.

In Younkle’s mind the perfected Cardigan app will be socially acceptable by maintaining the seamless flow of conversation.

Younkle’s main concern with the product is to create a transaction of digital information that is completely socially acceptable. If any part of the interaction is difficult or awkward, he fears the business will be in jeopardy.

“It’s all about trying to coast into this 400-year-old tradition where you can’t interrupt the flow of conversation,” Younkle said. “We want to maintain that at all costs.”

There are several tools that the founders will utilize to avoid this problem.

The Cardigan app employs a geo-temporal algorithm using GPS and the phone’s built-in clock. This algorithm allows the two phones to find each other and swap the digital information.

When two Cardigan users meet for the first time they will press a “swap” button and the digital exchange will be complete.

Younkle and Remsik are also developing a card-scanning feature using the built-in camera of the phone. This feature will allow Cardigan users to interact with other professionals who do not yet have the app, while preventing any need for a person to type in their information. This is a big plus in Younkle’s eyes.

The founders believe that by putting primary focus into designing the perfect product, they will be able to create a user experience that will draw and maintain users organically.

Once Younkle and Remsik are confident their app possesses the highest quality of performance and the ability to maintain a significant number of active users, they will turn focus towards marketing and growth.

This strategy for creating a successful product has been developed over the years by Younkle, who has founded business such TurboTap, Adorable and Laminar Technologies LLC.

When asked about the competition posed by traditional business cards and other digital business card developers, Younkle does not seem worried.

“We have the timing right, we have the technology right, and we have the strategy to out-execute them and their product,” he said.

The company presented to potential investors in November during the Tech Council Investor Networks’ track of the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium.

--By Emma Stodola

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