The mobile revolution has presented opportunities for creative entrepreneurs like Alex Tange 07MBA—the cofounder of nextSociety—who can effectively capitalize on the capabilities of mobile technology. Tange’s company is behind the professional networking app that filters through multiple social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to target connections based on business objectives. “Our mobile app enables professionals to identify relevant networking opportunities and, with a few clicks, to build an effective networking agenda that connects them with people they really need to meet,” he says. The app is in the beta stage with about 1,000 users, almost exclusively in the US.
The long-term goal, however, is to gain more international traction. “In the short term,” Tange says, “we are focusing on nailing the product for the US market, but we have assembled a team of programmers and developers in Europe and have international investors.”
A native of the former East Germany, Tange is used to having a foot on two continents. He studied briefly in the US on an undergraduate exchange program before returning to Europe to complete his BBA at the Georg-Simon-Ohm Hochschule in Nürnberg in 2005. Following brief stints as a consultant for SAP AG in Walldorf, Germany, and ifb group in Zurich, Switzerland, he returned to the US to attend Goizueta. After graduating from the One-Year MBA program, Tange settled for good stateside in the Big Apple, working as a consultant at Ernst & Young in the area of management reporting for Fortune-500 executives and their CFO offices.
A desire to change careers got him thinking entrepreneurially. The core idea for his company arose in 2011 during a coffee shop conversation with his friend and cofounder, Dr. Peter Stebe. “It was really about looking into an idea and seeing how it could be done better,” he says. Three months later, nextSociety was born. The company’s prototype was originally a desktop application, but Tange says they soon pivoted and focused on mobile. “Everyone we met on the street and everything we saw signaled we should build a mobile solution.”
After initially bootstrapping the company and working on the idea at night and on weekends, Tange left his job at Ernst & Young to work full-time at nextSociety in 2013. “It was hard to scale a business with a full-time job; we realized we needed to take the plunge,” he says.
In January 2014 nextSociety raised $700,000 in seed funding from angel investors and entrepreneurs. “This enables the company to add personnel and to take our beta product to market for iPhones,” Tange notes. The next step is looking at other mobile platforms, like Android, and down the road to Google Glass. It’s all about continuing to tap into the changing demands of the consumer, Tange says—and the resulting shifts in technology.
— Myra Thomas