How We’re Planning to Bridge the Network Gap

Bridging the gap

Last week, Ablorde announced that he and I were cofounding 4Degrees, a platform empowering professionals to build stronger relationships. As professionals whose careers depend on relationships, we know firsthand how little technology exists to meaningfully solve this problem. We’ve been working on a new approach to the problem for the past 5 months or so, and today are thrilled to announce that we’re a part of the Techstars Chicago 2017 cohort! We couldn’t be more excited to have this time to rapidly learn and iterate; we believe the Techstars platform will offer us an unparalleled opportunity to launch 4Degrees.

Over the coming months, we’ll talk a lot about how we’ll help venture capitalists, CEOs, and dozens of other types of professionals form stronger relationships. I’m pumped about what we have in store for them, but this post isn’t about them. To us, this business is about something far more fundamental: enabling access to opportunity.

The Problem

  1. There is a massive gap in our society between the networks of the “haves” and the “have-nots”. Strength of network is a primary driver of professional success. We describe the combined effect of these two phenomena as the Network Gap.
  2. This gap often starts at birth — some people are born to working-class parents who juggle multiple hourly jobs to make ends meet, while others are born to millionaire industry titans with direct access to every major institution in the world.
  3. The gap is self-reinforcing — those born into powerful networks have opportunities to expand the scope and influence of their networks over time. Regardless of ambition, those not born into powerful networks often do not have these opportunities.
  4. None of this is good. Professional success should not be dependent on the lottery of being born into the right family.

The Solution

Our vision at 4Degrees is to close the network gap by helping everyone form stronger professional relationships

Getting this right requires doing 3 things well:

  1. Identifying meaningful connections
  2. Empowering professionals to build stronger relationships
  3. Helping our users derive value from their networks at the right time

The goal is to make all of this as natural as possible by integrating into our users’ existing workflows. We will use robust process management, insights from the world’s top networkers, and artificial intelligence to do as much work as possible on the back-end to free up our users for what really matters: forming authentic relationships.

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