When he was a mortgage broker, Ben Brashen created his first virtual business card for himself, using his app to keep in touch with clients. It got so popular he turned it into a Bellevue-based startup for professionals who do their own marketing.
What: Bellevue-based CardTapp, virtual business cards for salespeople
Who: Ben Brashen, CEO and co-founder
Useful apps: Brashen created his first app in 2011 when he was a broker at Cobalt Mortgage. It was a simple mortgage calculator, branded with his name and contact info. He used the app to keep in touch with clients, and it soon gained interest from fellow brokers. “I had loan officers calling me and asking for their own app,” he said. “That gave us the opportunity to recognize it could be a business.”
Marketing on your own: CardTapp creates web apps for professionals who do their own marketing — real-estate agents, doctors, insurance brokers, etc. The apps can contain contact information, scheduling tools, links to websites or pretty much any info the client chooses. “People use it instead of using business cards or other sales collateral,” Brashen said.
Web applications: Salespeople can text new contacts a link to download their personal app. The app is web-based, meaning its icon can be saved to a smartphone’s home screen. But the apps are not found in any device’s app store. Clients receive a notification when new contacts open and interact with their apps.
Data dump: CardTapp charges clients about $599 per year to create and operate the app. The fee includes an analytics service, TappTracker, which notifies clients about use of their apps and makes it easy to call contacts. CardTapp works with nearly 10,000 clients, including larger ones such as Aflac and Fidelity National Title. CardTapp’s newest product targets auto salespeople.
Revving up growth: CardTapp has raised $2.4 million from local angels, including the Alliance of Angels Group. The company has grown to 50 employees in the past year, and plans to double in the next 12 to 18 months.
— Rachel Lerman