Hill staffers lamenting the loss of the Longworth Creamery can take solace on their smart phones, where the popular Capitol Hill haunt will live on through a networking app.
The brains behind the anonymous gossip app for Capitol Hill known as Cloakroom have developed a new mobile app called "The Creamery" for Hill staffers to connect with each other and discuss their next career moves. The app's namesake is the coffee shop/ice cream parlor in the Longworth House Office building, which is set to transform into a Dunkin' Donuts in August. Swing by the Creamery during the day and you'll be sure to see Hill staffers outside in the hallway, scrolling through their phones, waiting for their counterparts to grab a coffee and partake in a Hill networking staple: the informational interview .
"When I was on the Hill, the Creamery played an important role, especially for new people networking and getting the lay of the land,” said Ted Henderson, a former Hill staffer-turned-engagement app developer.
“We wanted to make a tribute to that and it’s just a mini app to maybe encapsulate that side of the Hill, where you network and meet new and interesting people,” Henderson said.
Henderson developed a civic engagement app called "Capitol Bells " and later launched Cloakroom, which he said includes roughly 4,000 Hill staffers. Some of the staffers engaged in Cloakroom were asking for a private chat function, but he was concerned adding the function would compromise the app's focus on anonymity.
So he developed the Creamery app, which launched on the Apple iTunes app store on July 24. It is available for free, and is currently only available to Hill staffers and interns, since an account must be verified by a house.gov or senate.gov email address.
The user creates an account with his or her name, years of experience in the House or Senate, home district and a brief biography. When flipping through profiles, users can swipe right, or "vote yea," for someone they wish to network with, or swipe left, or "vote nay." When the user is "yea-voted back" the app will connect the users, giving them the opportunity to chat with one another.
Though the swipe-left, swipe-right feature is reminiscent of the popular dating app Tinder, Henderson noted the app is for networking, not dating, pointing out that users do not upload their pictures. He also noted that staffers shouldn't worry about their Creamery account exposing their Cloakroom identity, since the apps are "completely disconnected."
Though the app is currently for Hill staffers only, Henderson said he could envision it developing into a space where citizens or constituent groups can also create profiles and connect with staffers. But he said, “For now we’re just keeping it really simple.”
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