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New Business Tries to Make Money While Offering Product for Free

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You can buy almost anything on the sidewalks of Manhattan, but a new business is trying to get people's attention by offering its product for free, an idea that's almost hard to believe. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

In a city where everyone just wants to get from point A to point B as fast as possible, these guys are trying to get everyone to slow down by offering something for free. Conversation.

"A lot of people, especially in New York, they really do have a desire to engage, and so it's really tapping into the entire idea that people want to, they want to communicate," said Mac Dassatti, lead conversationalist at Free Convo.

The company is called Free Convo. It sets up inflatable couches at places like Washington Square Park and Union Square. On an average day, its conversationalists can talk with about 150 people, and more than 200 on a weekend night. So who actually stops to talk?

"We're interesting people, and these looked like interesting people, too, so interesting people got to talk to interesting people," said one customer.

They'll let anybody talk about anything.

One person on couch: It's like, look at this guy, man. He's got blonde hair and green glasses. What do I want to talk to him for? I want to know why he's got the green glasses? What's up?
Weinstein: Why do you have the green glasses?
Another person on couch: We tested out a bunch of different colors.

Believe it or not, this is a business. But since nobody would pay for conversation, they're trying to find other ways to make money by engaging other companies.

"We can partner with these companies to go to their premises and provide conversation on their premises," said Michael Scotto, co-founder of Free Convo. "Or a lot of companies, they want to know what people think."

They want people to reach out on social media.

For the moment, Free Convo is financially supported by a so-called angel investor, someone who believes in the idea, just like these satisfied customers.

"I saw this big sign that said 'Free Conversation,' and I was like, 'Wow, that's cool,'" said one customer. "You know, the best things in life are free."

They're looking to keep conversations like this one going outside of New York, too. They've got chapters in London and San Francisco. So let's say you're traveling and need someone to talk to. I guess you can look these guys up.

10.11.12.245 ClientIP: 54.237.213.31, 184.51.126.28 UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 (http://commoncrawl.org/faq/) Profile: TWCSAMLSP