April 9, 2015

LinkedIn acquires “briefing book” startup Refresh.io

Busy professionals take a lot of meetings. From prospective business partners to job candidates, facetime with acquaintances makes it challenging for professionals to keep names, credentials and even faces straight. In the past, business leaders might have asked assistants to brief them on appointments, but technology can alleviate some of that pressure in 2015. That's the void Refresh.io, an anticipatory learning startup, aims to fill with its suite of services. 

Bhavin Shah, founder of Refresh, describes the platform as a "digital briefing book" that gives an abstract on individuals from a social or professional network. When those briefs are synced with a calendar, professionals can jog their memory or memorize new information to avoid embarrassing mistakes. This also gives them an enhanced level of attention and expertise when meeting someone for the first or second time. 

"The inspiration for Refresh came in 2004 when I was in Afghanistan with Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson launching a program to teach illiterate women about pre-natal health," explains Shah in a company statement. "I admired his briefing book, which outlined every detail of the trip and prepared him for every conversation, and realized that everyone could use their own briefing book to help them be more successful."

This week, it was announced that Refresh was acquired by professional social networking giant LinkedIn. The match makes perfect sense when you consider the number of loose professional connections one user of LinkedIn might make. When individuals network in a professional environment, being prepared to meet every conversation with the right set of talking points is critical to making a good impression on peers in any industry. Refresh aims to eliminate moments when professionals are at a loss for words. 

LinkedIn has already made some efforts to enhance its anticipatory learning by matching users with profiles in similar geographic, professional and industry circles. 

"Some have talked about the creepy aspect of LinkedIn, where it seems to suggest potential connections that are eerily accurate, but moves like adding Refresh potentially give it a more targeted way of doing this, offering up not potential connections but useful data about the connections you already have only when people actually want or need them," explains Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch. 

By integrating the Refresh technology in LinkedIn interfaces, the network could leverage the convenience and necessity of briefing books to improve networking opportunities. 

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