Ifedayo-Emmanuel Adeyefa-Olasupo, founder of Figbox, said that his idea of using artificial intelligence as a way to connect people came as a result of the isolation that was part of the recent Covid pandemic. That isolation caused him to create Figbox, which is a portal designed to foster human contact.
“We want people to feel less alone, more connected, and have meaningful conversations and exchanges, because this is what we are as humans, we’re social animals, we need it,” Adeyefa-Olasupo explained, “The pandemic, exposed that desire even more, I was craving for human contact.”
But the social media available during the pandemic didn’t provide the platform he felt was needed, so he created Figbox. At the same time, he worried that the trend of users becoming addicted to social media would only make the problem worse if his idea took off.
“And I think addiction, or spending more time online is something that we’re against, we don’t want you to spend more time on Figbox,” Adeyefa-Olasupo said. “We want you to spend more time making the connection, and then making that connection, physical at some point.”
The idea was to have users make their connections remotely and then physically, in person at times convenient to business, such as over lunch. To encourage those mentorship meetings, Figbox charges small sums, typically about the same as lunch money. “So we have this sort of lunch money mechanism where you are able to make up to $500 a week, just sharing your insight,” he said. Adeyefa-Olasupo said that many of their mentors donate their earnings directly to charity.
The Figbox model may sound like it’s competing with LinkedIn, but Adeyefa-Olasupo said that it’s actually not. “You’re a part of a community where you feel like you are an important asset to the community.” He said that unlike LinkedIn, where someone can have hundreds of connections, that’s not the case with Figbox.
“With Figbox, you only have 50 connections, so you have to think carefully about the people you’re connecting with whether or not it’s meaningful,” he said.
Adeyefa-Olasupo said that a goal of Figbox is to make more leaders and more mentors.
“I see, for example, friends that I grew up with, who are working, but they’re not fulfilled,” he said. Instead, he said that the mentorship they needed to form was not there.
“So I think that Figbox is trying to solve and bring mentorship into relationships, and also into the professional world.”
“I think that when I look at Figbox, we are at the end of product development and I think it’s now convincing the market that we are doing something meaningful in a great conversational way,” he said.