Bond in the time of Corona
A virtual platform for managing teams, tribes and clans, developed in the pressure cooker of the travel industry, could not seem more relevant. Pamela Whitby reports
Sometimes in business you are in the right place at the right time, but actively promoting your product feels awkward. As coronavirus wreaks havoc on businesses across the world, this is the position that Marc Mekki, the co-founder of Bond, a virtual community and management platform for clans, teams and tribes, finds himself in. He says: “We started to develop the platform early last year because we believed strongly that virtual communities would become increasingly relevant. But we could never have predicted how relevant!”
We started to develop the platform early last year because we believed strongly that virtual communities were to become increasingly relevant. But we could never have predicted how relevant
Mekki, a Belgian national, currently in lock-down in Barcelona, has a long history in the travel industry. He spent 13 years in China building a thriving tourism business, before returning to Europe five years ago. Since then his focus has shifted more towards travel tech and together with co-founder and CTO Sahil Choujar, a pure software engineer, they decided to developa range of innovative products destined for the mass-market. The latest one, Bond, is a closed digital community that is platform independent.
“Think of it as combining the best features of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and LinkedIn but stripped of bloat, and without the data privacy issues,” Mekki says. Crucially, corporates will be completely in control of their own data, which is not he case in communities established on other social media.
Keeping the conversation going
It all started early last year when Mekki and his co-founder increasingly started to feel that all the technology they had developed could be amalgamated into one single product. For example, the algorithm developed for the Symphony app, which he describes as “a sort-of Tinder for travel”, is now being repurposed for Bond.
In fact, the Bond platform was developed in response to a professional need. As someone who has been involved in travel and hospitality events for many years, Mekki found that what was missing was a platform for pre- and post-event engagement. “There is a lot of technology out there to manage events on the ground, but engagement typically drops off precipitously after everybody flies home,” he says.
There is a lot of technology out there to manage events on the ground, but engagement typically drops off precipitously after everybody flies home
Bond, on the other hand, allows brands and organisations to keep engagement levels high throughout the year and creates a strong sense of belonging for members. “It harkens back to our tribal instincts, so to speak,” he explains.
The platform, which has conversational commerce at its core, was developed in a live environment. “It was designed in the pressure cooker of the travel industry and as a consequence is very broad,” says Mekki, adding that the platform can be tweaked to individual requirements. He is quick to stress, however, that it is not an events management platform, nor a remote working and video-conferencing platform like Zoom.
As economies around the world reel from the impact of coronavirus, the importance of creating deep and meaningful connections has never felt more important. With much of the world now in lock down, could Bond be a solution?