Intryst Creates Safer Communication Tool for Buyers and Sellers

By Mayra Monroy on August 19th, 2015 / Comments

In recent years, there has been an increase in online transactions and “Craigslist sales.” With this new way of purchasing items, the convenience is a plus, but danger has also become prominent in this new way of selling. An emerging startup from the Emerge Xcelerate accelerator, Intryst, exists in order to provide secure and safe transactions for all through their anonymous phone number system.

Intryst sets up a user with an anonymous number that is used in contacting the seller. Through this anonymous phone number, users will never be asked to reveal their personal phone number and are able to do a variety of commands, including setting up a safe meeting spot, terminating contact, and much more.

“Intryst actually started out as a dating application designed to stop the abuse associated with giving out your phone number to new people,” says Erik Alburg, co-founder of Intryst. “While that is still very a strong use case, we have found significant traction in peer-to-peer marketplaces. There’s an ‘offline’ component to selling ‘online’ locally that has been neglected. We wanted to bridge that gap as communications go from online listings to offline meetups.”

“We offer you complete control of your identifying information so you can communicate with confidence,” adds Bryce Kaiser, co-founder.  “If you feel uncomfortable with the person you’re communicating with, you can destroy the connection at anytime. No more annoying follow up calls and texts!”

Co-founder Erik Alburg

With the key demographic of users in the Craigslist market, Alburg and Kaiser have prospered in the Emerge Xcelerate accelerator that launched in April. With a “graduation” set for September, Intryst is participating in Emerge’s Demo Day.

“Emerge Xcelerate has been such a great experience and there are so many valuable lessons that we have learned along the way,” says Alburg. “ We must have talked to over 2000 people in a span of 10 weeks that really helped us focus on specific markets and feature sets that we offer.  Our current product looks nothing like it did before the start of the accelerator and I am sure it will continue to change as we learn more the needs of our market.”

Co-founder Bryce Kaiser
Co-founder Bryce Kaiser

With a promising future, Kaiser and Alburg have seen the Intryst growth through rewarding experiences and challenges to overcome.

“The most rewarding part for us is empowering people to make better decisions when it comes to disclosing their personal information.  In an age where people are keeping the same cell phone numbers for sometime a decade or more it is becoming as much as an identifiable piece of information as your social security number is,” explains Alburg  “So when having conversations with new people, whether that be on Craigslist or meeting someone on [online dating app] Tinder, Intryst is there to allow people to communicate freely without exposing your sensitive information.  That is pretty cool.

The most challenging part of our business is addressing a market where people are already skeptical and apprehensive of scams and fraud.  Therefore we have put a lot of effort in making the experience on our platform as easy, seamless, and transparent as possible.  Unlike many other platforms, Intryst requires only one user to be a member so the other person doesn’t even know they are on a secure platform.”

“Some people will be drawn to it for its identity management capabilities, while others will love the fresh twist on communication. We’re also targeting a traditionally neglected space of bridging the gap between online and offline communications,” adds Kaiser.

Kaiser encourages startups to pursue their ideas and to continue to build.

“Reach out to those around you for feedback as much as possible,” advises Kaiser. “A lot of entrepreneurs end up on an island when they’re building their business and that’s very dangerous. Build a team of people that believe in you. Start with one person. Then work on your second. Continue this process with your customers. Work hard. If you think you’re working hard, work harder. There’s no secret formula for success of an entrepreneur; there’s just some people refusing to give up.”

For more information on this up and coming startup, please visit their website.

About the Author

Mayra Monroy

Mayra Monroy

Mayra Monroy is studying communication and journalism at Aquinas College. A Texas native, she enjoys studying communication culture and the arts in West Michigan. She currently resides in Grand Rapids and works as a editor-in-chief for Aquinas’ collegiate student newspaper and a freelance journalist.