Commonred: Professional Network Offers Competition to Meet VIPs


WHAT: A professional networking solution to foster introductions based on common interests. Commonred members can also connect with VIP professionals through community-decided pitch competitions. Members state why they want to meet with a VIP professional and compete against other users in the Commonred community. Currently, the VIPs are predominantly made up of entrepreneurs and other digerati, but the service looks to expand to include other professionals.  

Answer Commonred questions to build your interest graph and connect your social media accounts to expand the number of ways you can connect to others. Commonred also lets you add a Wordpress feed, YouTube video or other images to your account.

LAUNCHERS: Derek Andersen, CEO and founder of Vaporware Labs and former EA product manager. Joel Fernandes, CTO, founder of Digital Work.

WHY: Not everyone is connected. Social networks like LinkedIn are too impersonal and many of the professionals people want to connect with are constantly bombarded with email and can't listen to every pitch or even respond. But if they could bring the support of 50 people for their pitch to the table that means something.

WHEN/WHERE: VIP Meetings Aug. 2011, Beta July 2011/Mountain View

BACKSTORY: "When I left EA I couldn't go to any conferences, it was just too much money, but I still needed to get educated and we found there was so many other people in the same boat," Derek says.  

Derek organizes the Startup Grind in Palo Alto, where entrepreneurs come together once a month to network and share ideas. He realized that there are others out there who desperately wanted to connect with real professionals for advice and job opportunities.

PHILOSOPHY: "Always be helpful. If you are willing to help people without any expectation or reciprocation it's amazing what can happen. If you are thoughtful and genuinely helpful it all comes back around." Derek says.  

BUSINESS MODEL: Not disclosed.

COMPETITION: LinkedIn, Zerply, Sonar, Meetup.

ON COMPETITION: "Zerply is very well designed and has some good things going for it," Derek says. "LinkedIn has a huge share of the market and is probably the best place to get a job, but we have the best community compared to any of those other sites. I think that will be what continues to help us grow, people will say, 'Hey, this is a place where I can really build and awesome professional network'"

CUSTOMERS/GROWTH: Thousands of users in beta. 

TOTAL RAISED: Bootstrapping the project.




Commonred displays your profile with click-able buttons to display more information about a particular topic. 

The main dashboard of Commonred displays other users you share common threads with that you can be introduced to or add to your network. 

When you click on a user you share common threads with Commonred prompts you for an introduction, an offer to meet for lunch or to simply add that person as a contact if you already know them.

To earn a VIP meeting with a mentor, like co founder of StartupDigest's Chris McCann (above) members make their pitch for the entire Commonred community to vote on. The top vote earner will receive the meeting. 

Derek Andersen, CEO (left) and Joel Fernandes (right), CTO.



1. Facebook Users Want Professional Networking: Branch Out Nears a Million New Users Within a Week (Inside Facebook, June 19, 2011).

2. Crossing the Social Networking Chasm ( ).


Twitter: @Commonred

Derek Andersen
Email: Derek at VaporwareLabs dot net

Twitter: @DerekjAndersen

Joel Fernandes
Email: Mail at JoelFernandes dot net
Twitter: @JoelrFernandes