Many personal interactions that start online are based simply on trust—buying and selling on Craigslist
, picking up discarded items from Freecyle
, attending a brand new Meetup
or even going out on a date.
But what if you could find out a bit more about someone before going out on that first date? Or maybe you'd like to alleviate a buyer's concerns before selling them your old Xbox. A Cincinnati couple started an online profile verification service that allows users to verify and share their identities, photos and background checks with other users.
Co-founders Michael and BreeAnna Bergman are set to launch their service, REPP
, in public beta in April. The idea came from the newlyweds' own life. BreeAnna unsuccessfully tried to do a little detective work on her soon-to-be husband before their first date.
They met speed dating, and before their first night out, she had wanted to learn more about Michael. BreeAnna says she couldn't be sure if she had found the right Michael Bergman on social media, and when she tried to run a background check (not uncommon nowadays) more than 100 Michael Bergman's popped up. "It was hopeless," she says.
Luckily, she didn't let her fruitless search deter her. A few months into their relationship, she told Michael about what she had done. He was a little shocked at first but understood. Then came the business idea.
"I found out that every girl does this," Michael says with a chuckle. "There are lots of situations where we meet up with total strangers, and we try to do our due diligence. REPP will give the end result right away."
REPP is a 2012 graduate of The Brandery
. Michael has a background in marketing and law, and BreeAnna has a marketing background.
The REPP process starts by providing a name, birthdate and address. The user is asked questions relevant to his or her life that are based on information culled from databases to verify identity. REPP also runs a background check, and the user can provide notes on anything that comes up in it.
Through REPP, users can also connect social media accounts,which gives another level of identity verification. Once a profile is created, anyone can be invited to view it. Users control what they can and cannot view, as well and when they can view the profile. The profile will also have a public link, and viewers can request access. The profile's owner keeps control over who sees what.
Michael sees REPP as the next step in creating higher quality virtual connections.
"It can be used in dating, networking, the peer-to-peer area, or to get to know someone better in a professional capacity," he says. "It's a way to set yourself apart, and it's an easy way for people to get to know each other better."
By Feoshia H. Davis
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