Shuffle co-founders Chris Watts and Mathew Lee.
Matthew Lee focused on his professional accomplishments while on a sabbatical between jobs two years ago.
“There were some occupations that I really enjoyed, and others that were just a job,” Lee explained. “The individuals were the most important factor.”
That started him thinking about how he could utilise technology to help employees engage with their coworkers and improve their work experiences. He looked through his professional and personal networks and discovered that his boyhood friend Chris Watts had created a platform that linked people for lunches at random. They initially met in 2001, when Lee moved to Seattle as a seventh-grader, and have remained in contact ever since.
Lee asked Watts to visit Malaysia, one of his sabbatical locations and the place where he was born. In Kuala Lumpur, he made his pitch over street food. Watts joined after leaving his position as an engineer at Amazon.
Shuffl, a firm that matches and introduces individuals through platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams, was founded by the two in 2019. The CEO, Lee, is based in San Francisco, while the CTO, Watts, is based in Seattle, where the two-person company is based.
This is how Shuffl operates. On Slack, for example, the Shuffl app may be found in the platform’s app store. Users control how often and when Shuffl-mediated conversations occur with the app, which automatically opens a new channel for them. The software provides channel notifications and matches users for one-on-one or bigger encounters, which can be assigned at random or on purpose.
When the “Shuffl” occurs, the organiser can offer video conference URLs as well as icebreaker questions or discussion items. Users can use the “smart shuffl” function to create non-random connections, such as pairing a small group of employees with a corporate leader.
According to Lee, the software has been installed by about 1,000 teams, including organisations within large corporations, university students in Germany, and a public health institution in Wales. For groups of up to 50 individuals, the service is free, and for teams of up to 1,000 people, it costs $50 each month. Additional perks and assistance are available with the premium service.
Donut, RandomCoffee, and Snack are among the space’s competitors. In the first quarter of 2021, Shuffl will be looking for angel investors.
Watt formerly worked at Expedia and Simply Measured, a social analytics firm that was bought by Chicago-based social media management platform Sprout Social, in addition to Amazon. Lee has worked in sales for StreamSets, Interana, Apptio, and other firms.