Plain Sight, a mobile application that helps users connect in shared spaces in real-time, has been up to big things since launching in Detroit. The app was designed to help people find new clients, recruit talent and connect collaborators. The brand had a great beginning to 2022: it was on the heels of being featured as the Apple App of The Day, launched a crowdfunding campaign on Republic, and became an official minority supplier.
“The way we work is rapidly changing, but the way we actually connect with people is still a broken process,” says James Chapman, founder and CEO. “Nearly half a billion mobile workers around the world are missing out on profitable opportunities to connect because they are making blind decisions about where to work and who to work alongside.
“When you’re a startup founder, networking can be a full-time job in itself. Endless hours are spent schmoozing with potential investors, finding the right people for the team, and connecting with people who may benefit from the business..”
Chapman still streamlines how entrepreneurs network.
“Additionally, networking at random often results in time wasted on connections that don’t align with your career goals. With Plain Sight, we are allowing people to be intentional about where and who they connect with – allowing them to build purposeful relationships wherever they are, putting them in the right place at the right time. People tell me all the time that for them to reach success, they need a proper seat at the table or to know the right rooms to be in,” says Chapman. “Plain Sight makes that possible. There are a lot of talented people that go unnoticed. If you have the skills and ideas to be successful, you shouldn’t be stifled because you weren’t born in a certain zip code or family.”
Black Founders Demo Day
Plain Sight offers services for two target audiences: individuals and places. Places include shared spaces such as coffee shops, events, co-working spaces, conference locations, hotel lobbies, and airports. For individuals, the platform notifies users when people with the professions they are looking for check-in at a place near them. There are no names or profile pictures, eliminating unconscious bias and helping users connect based on skills, interests, and goals.
In August, Plain Sight actively participated in the Black Founders Demo Day, a competition held in Miami where Black Tech founders won millions of dollars in investments for their start-ups. Existing at the intersection of culture and capital, Black Founders Demo day allows companies from all over the country to be hand-select by leaders in tech, venture, and entertainment they plan to support.
“Oftentimes, the exact person that we need to meet, the exact person that could open up a door for us to get on the other side of success, goes to the same coffee shop as us, is in the same airport, or at the same restaurant,” says Chapman. “They are hiding in plain sight. We are on a mission to eliminate any missed opportunities and help the go-getters of the world find their next thing – or the next big thing.”
Where Chapman Got His Start
Chapman moved to Detroit from Tennessee and spent the last three years as the director of entrepreneurship for the Quicken Loans Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of Detroit’s Quicken Loans. He spearheaded the launch of the Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day, an annual entrepreneurial pitch competition for Detroit-based businesses and those willing to relocate to the city.
In three years, the program has provided nearly $3.5 million in funding to businesses throughout the city, most of which are minority- and women-owned. Chapman has also provided mentorship, consultation, and networking opportunities for the associated companies.