Before you go on a sales call, or to a job interview, or conduct a job interview, do you Google the person you'll be meeting? If you have time, of course you do. If you don't have time, you don't, which can leave you unprepared for that meeting. Enter Charlie.
Charlie is a personal assistant that does the searching for you and sends you a report on everyone you'll be meeting with today.
"It's there to make you walk into every meeting prepared," says Charlie App CEO and founder Aaron Frazin. He claims that it saves an average of 57 Google searches for each person you want information on. Charlie App's motto? "Oh you weren't doing that before? Now you are."
I've been using Charlie for a week now, and I can see how it is going to make my life much easier, but not perfect. For instance, my husband is anti-social-media, so when I ran a report on him, all that came up was information about the company he worked for (which I'm sure Charlie gleaned from his email address). Not even his LinkedIn information came up. I assume this is because of two factors: 1. His email address that he uses on LinkedIn is his personal one, not the work one I used for the check and 2. He hasn't updated his LinkedIn profile since he changed companies a little while ago, so his current company isn't listed.
Now, granted, I already know just about everything there is to know about him, but there is that limitation. Additionally, a report I ran on someone else returned information about a woman who is currently in jail for killing her husband. Since I happen to know this woman has not murdered anyone lately, it's clearly not the same person. Still, in both these situations, Charlie pulled up information on the companies worked for, and additional information that was correct. You do have to use your own brain, though, to determine if the woman you're meeting with in New Jersey is the same woman that killed her husband in Alaska.
Charlie pulls in information from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and news sources, which is why it's more valuable than just pulling up someone's LinkedIn profile. Frazin assures me it doesn't return information that you couldn't get yourself--it doesn't breach privacy settings, for instance--but it does do it a heck of a lot faster. The neatly packaged information on the companies people work for is a great bonus.
And while I am a big social media person, I was a little creeped out by the ease with which Charlie searched and found information about me. So I asked Frazin how Charlie avoids the creep factor.
Frazin advises bringing up that you've done your prep work: "I think the key to making a killer impression is to be human and just be honest. Before I walk into a meeting, I openly tell them that I've done my prep work. I can't tell you how many times I've been told after the conversation that the fact that I was prepared separated me from 99 percent of the other people they met with that day. I cared enough to walk in prepared to meet them." So, since Charlie will return, for instance, topics that you're both interested in, by looking at who you follow on Twitter, he advises stating clearly that you found out that info and isn't that cool that you both like X.
This is, in fact, how he hired his chief technical officer. "When we landed our CTO," Frazin recalls, "he loved rocking out at concerts, so for the one-day interview, instead of focusing on Charlie, I got tickets to this concert and we had an amazing time and now we've been rocking out at concerts ever since. Charlie pulls up common interests, so that's something that we shared, so while there are other startups that were further along, we were able to land him by finding something that we both love."
But if you're planning on using Charlie to make stalking someone easier, Frazin says they'll shut down your account. They do monitor behavior that looks off.
Does Charlie solve all your problems? Of course not. Does it make meeting prep a heck of a lot easier? Yes. Is it a great tool for job hunters, sales people, and journalists? Absolutely.