As more gatherings of people begin online, the need to efficiently connect members of a community increases for the billions of people who have Internet access. Intros.ai, a social infrastructure startup founded by David Kobrosky and Robert Levy in November 2020, provides automated “introductions that happen over email, text, Discord, Telegram, or Slack.” The New York City-based startup raised a $1.3M pre-seed round led by Neo, with participation from SeedClub Ventures, Behind Genius Ventures, TSVCap, Brutalist VC, and angel investors included (but not limited to) Sriram Krishnan and Nicole Farb.
Bradley Miles, co-founder and CEO of Roll and angel investor in Intros, says, “David worked for me over 4 years ago at Roll and even then he thought differently about what it means to belong and participate in online communities, the vision for Intros AI has game changing implications for both Web3 and Web2 communities.”
The startup has five full-time team members. Kobrosky and Levy plans to use the money to fill key executive roles, redesign their platform and build key integrations with various messaging services and mediums ranging from email to Discord. Intros is in competition with introduction-focused messaging bots on popular communication platforms and manual, human-facilitated introductions.
Guy Miasnik, co-founder of AdHoc (acquired by Blackberry) and angel investor in Intros, adds, “Member engagement is at the heart of any successful community and is a challenge every community, whether professional group, DAO or a school’s alumni, is facing. David and Rob have been living the space for years and their vision to facilitate connections between members could unlock an immense amount of value within any network.”
Frederick Daso: What are some current ways organizations try to connect their members and build community?
David Kobrosky and Robert Levy: Most communities create a Slack or Discord Server, but without members making content, memes, etc., the community quickly dies down. This means the community manager needs to do all the work to spark engagement between members.
Two common ways we’ve seen community managers boost engagement is making manual introductions between members or hosting events. The issue is that neither of these options scale. Manual introductions take hours, and everyone’s burnt out from networking events.
The intrinsic designs of Slack and Discord and the difficulty of manual introductions and events are why we’ve started to see communities like Morning Brew, On Deck, and Femtech Insider creates Intros Clubs. An Intros Club takes 5 minutes to set up and makes personalized 1:1 and group introductions between members based on goals, interests, and availability.
Daso: How does maintaining a viable community become more complex at scale?
Kobrosky and Levy: Through helping dozens of communities and DAOs scale from casual group chats to 10,000+ member communities, we’ve noticed three common issues.
First, members struggle to separate signal from noise. With hundreds to thousands of members, it becomes difficult to determine who’s worth spending time with and what content is worth reading.
Then, members lose trust in the community. We trust the person who invited us to the community but rarely do we trust people we’ve never met. As communities scale, degrees of separation erode the trust between members.
Finally, without the right structure and toolset, the potential value of a growing community goes to waste. With more members, there’s more community knowledge and resources to capitalize on. To deliver this value to members, larger communities must create directories, knowledge repositories, networking opportunities, and other systems. At Intros AI, we’re building community infrastructure and integrations so we can scale alongside our communities.
Daso: For hundreds of millions of people participating in online communities, which segment are you focusing on as you build a solution for them through Intros?
Kobrosky and Levy: Intros AI works best in communities where members network, learn, or team up for projects. The most popular Intros Clubs are professional communities and DAOs, including Morning Brew’s Accelerator, Seed Club DAO, On Deck’s Founder Community, Contrary Capital’s fellowship, and Femtech Insider.
We’re frequently surprised by the creative ways our communities use Intros AI. We’ve seen professional writing communities connect members for peer review and brainstorming. Business podcasts use Intros AI to connect listeners based on their favorite episodes and location. Even DAOs use Intros AI to create working groups based on compatible skills and areas of interest. Communities are seeing Intros AI as their “Chief Introduction Officer.”
Daso: How does facilitating automated, yet personalized introductions work at scale in a community in the tens or hundreds of thousands?
Kobrosky and Levy: The process for making personalized introductions on Intros AI is always the same, regardless of community size.
Community managers sign up and customize the factors for member Intros. Existing communities connect their members based on a variety of factors like similar industry, location, years of experience, compatible skills, and hobbies. From there, managers brand the entire member experience with their logo, colors, and wording.
After set-up, managers share a unique invite link with members, upload a CSV, or integrate with a member database on platforms like Airtable.
Once members join the Intros Club, they can opt-in for an Intro. Introductions are made over email, group text messages, or a community platform like Discord.
Members can customize their own experience by changing intro frequency, requesting to meet other members in the directory, or linking their Google Calendar, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Whether there are 100 members in the community or 100,000 members, setting up an Intros Club takes 5 minutes. If you’re a community manager looking to kickstart your community, boost engagement, and create meaningful experiences for members, try it out!
Daso: As Intros aims to provide “introduction infrastructure,” how will you enable your “Chief Introduction Officers” to fully leverage Intros to meet the specific needs of their respective communities?
Kobrosky and Levy: Every community has a unique culture and mission. A co-founder match that relies on compatibility of skills is very different from a match between co-workers or a mentor/mentee match. This means the introductions and experiences we create need to be entirely customizable.
We enable holistic customization through our manager dashboard and offer several case studies on our site exploring how different organizations have built communities using Intros Ai.
Daso: Is Intros meant to be agnostic to any communication platform?
Kobrosky and Levy: Yes. The philosophy of “meeting members where they are” drove us to create email Intros, text Intros, and a Discord integration. Rather than forcing new habits, we make Introductions where members already spend time. Integrations with Telegram, Slack, and other community platforms are coming soon.
Daso: What’s the five-year vision for the startup, and how do you plan to grow current and future employees to produce a standard that realizes that vision?
Kobrosky and Levy: Intros AI is building a new form of an online community called an Intros Club that focuses on connection, not consumption. We see a world where every online community has an Intros club where members benefit from and contribute value to the community.
To realize this vision, we’re going to need the most talented and passionate people to join us. We’re building the culture of Intros to be a training ground for future founders and think deeply about ways to push our employees to achieve their goals within our company and personal lives.