App puts recess to work for users

Sean Ho Lung, who completed his Business Management and Organizational Studies degree at Western in 2014, co-developed Club Recess, an app that helps young working professionals find and build upon networking opportunities.

Special to Western NewsSean Ho Lung, who completed his Business Management and Organizational Studies degree at Western in 2014, co-developed Club Recess, an app that helps young working professionals find and build upon networking opportunities.

Business networking events just didn’t cut it for an introvert like Sean Ho Lung. Too much small talk. Too little opportunity to gauge a connection. He wanted to establish a professional network – but on his terms.

Enter Club Recess.

“When networking, especially as a new grad, and as an introvert myself, there’s a huge pain with meeting the right people and going out. But at the same time, meeting new people is crucial to collaboration, career development and learning,” said Lung, who completed his Business Management and Organizational Studies degree at Western in 2014.

“We wanted to create an app to make it incredibly easy, but also fulfilling, to connect with people over your work break, to be more efficient while meeting other ambitious, like-minded individuals.”

Club Recess is like the dating app Tinder, only for young professionals looking to establish professional connections. Instead of a dating profile indicating your interests, you fill out a business profile. Every day, you are sent three to five matches based on your location. The users you interact with are in your work’s vicinity – if you want to connect with someone, you select a green button on their profile. If you want to pass, you select red. If the interest is mutual, you can chat with your connections and agree to meet over work breaks. The app is meant to rekindle the concept of recess in the working world, explained Lung, who works for CIBC in Toronto.

“We’re trying to bring the fun of recess time back into the workplace, to make your work breaks more productive and support your true potential through networking,” he said.

The 2,000 or so users, currently on the app’s beta version, are giving positive reviews already, Lung added. They like the agency they have in the approach, and the ability to meet someone new every day, on their own time, without having to invest multiple hours at a networking event where they might engage in small talk, collect a handful of business cards and never re-connect with others.

“You want to have a reason to talk to them. It’s about breaking out of that networking event framework and focusing in on the one-to-one connection where you can build on that relationship, understand what each other wants, and be able to collaborate on goals and figure out where you can help each other,” he continued.

Lung – who co-developed Club Recess with Ryan Seo, a 2014 graduate from Ivey Business School, and Edward Choi, from the University of British Columbia – said the app appears to be particularly popular with young professionals working in more technical fields like engineering, where socializing and communicating on the job might not fold into a typical workday.

While professional networking is gaining traction, with platforms like Ten Thousand Coffees taking off, Club Recess levels the networking playing field, which some users prefer, Lung noted.

“The feedback from our users on how they interact with us versus how they interact with Ten Thousand Coffees is our users believe a one-on-one work recess break is amazing without the mentor-mentee relationship that Ten Thousand Coffees has,” he said.

“Our app is focusing more on the peer-to-peer group where you can work together, collaborate and grow together in your careers. I’ve used Ten Thousand Coffees as well, and you can’t get that (there).”

Club Recess is still working on development and user testing, building in more features and getting feedback. Lung hopes to see the app’s network grow so users can maximize their networking opportunities.

“We all know networking is difficult. But we recognize helping people build stronger peer networks can really push them to the next level and we wanted to create a better experience for people to connect and build better professional networks early on in their careers,” he said.

FIND A RECESS NEAR YOU

For more information about Club Recess or to connect with working professionals near you, visit clubrecess.io.