David Aubespin drew from his personal experiences to create Topi, an event app focused on networking. The 39-year-old native of France attended dozens of conferences during his six years as an engineering manager for Google. “I was always meeting the same people over and over, so I was not making the best out of the conference as far as networking,” he says. “I was thinking there are great applications to manage my existing relationships, but there’s not a very good one to create new ones.”
Aubespin left Google to create Topi, which launched in December 2012. Along with standard features such as event schedules, maps, and speaker information, Topi differentiates itself by facilitating real-time group communication. “You can send rich messages with pictures and sketches and maps to whole groups, to private groups, to public groups. We feel to help people physically meet and break the ice, there’s not a better way than to offer group messaging features,” Aubespin says. Topi draws from a user’s social media accounts to suggest groups. For example, a person whose LinkedIn account indicates a past job at Google would have access to a chat with other conference attendees from Google, as well as general chats about the Internet and technology.
Last year Samsung selected Topi as the official app for its first developer conference, and in February, Social Media Week used it for its events in New York. Aubespin says both of those events have given his company great momentum, and in the future he wants to expand its use for personal events such as weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs.