Business cards feel almost as outdated as Victorian calling cards, but they are still a networking staple. Melbourne-based Blinq wants to do away with them altogether. The app generates a QR code that shows your professional info, including social media links, as soon as someone scans it, even if they don’t have the app installed. The company announced today it has raised $5 million AUD (about $3.5 million USD) from Blackbird and Square Capital.
Blinq profile can also be shared through NFC cards, short links, email signatures and video call backgrounds. Users have the option of creating multiple profiles so they can control who sees what information, like their company websites, Calendly and LinkedIn. It integrates with CRM platforms and directories like Salesforce, HubSpot and Azure AD.
Founder and CEO Jarrod Webb was an early Uber Eats operator and software engineer when he created Blinq in 2017 as a hobby. At that time, Uber Eats had changed its logo a couple of times, Webb told TechCrunch, and his job title also changed twice, so he had stacks of different business cards on his desk. “It made me realize paper business cards have two big flaws,” he said. “Information is static and you had to carry them around.”
Around the same time, iOS 11 was released, giving iPhones the capability to scan QR codes natively through the camera. Over a weekend, Webb built the first version of Blinq, a simple app that allowed users to create a digital business card and add a QR code that they could add to their iPhone widget screen.
While Blinq worked between iPhone users, it was only in late 2019 that most Androids could scan them natively, Webb adds. QR codes saw more adoption during the COVID pandemic, and in January 2021, Webb left his job to focus on Blinq after several businesses contacted him, asking for a way to manage cards for all employees.
“Prior to QR code scanning from native phone cameras, there have been many digital business card apps, but none have really stood the test of time because they weren’t able to serve a great experience the first time two people met, either because they relied on both people already having the app installed to be able to receive details or because the transfer time was too long,” Webb said.
Blinq relies on a product-led growth strategy. Most of its growth is from users sharing their Blinq card with people they meet, including at conferences, who then in turn create their own Blinq cards.
In a prepared statement, Blackbird partner Rick Baker said, “The last time Square Peg and Blackbird co-invested in a seed-stage startup, the result was Canva. With many social networks leading to a fragmentation of identity, Blinq is creating a way to help people manage, control and share their identities in one place. We see such an exciting opportunity with what Blinq is building.”