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The other day we received an email invite to a new online social platform called At The Pool, and we, just like probably every one of you who’s reading this piece right now, thought: “Yeah right — as if I needed ANOTHER online profile to maintain.” In all honesty, we really don’t — I mean on top of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and God knows what (Myspace, anyone?), the last thing I need is yet another virtual medium to remind me that I don’t have any friends in real life.
Anyway, being the curious, adventurous and mad-cool journalist that I am, I accepted the invite nonetheless. I wanted to know first-hand how At The Pool differs from its similar competitors in order to share my experience as a user with you all. Let’s just say I’m thankful that I did because turns out At The Pool doesn’t only connect people virtually on the wonderful world of Internet, but also off the Internet. In fact, its primary intention is to get its users offline and mingle with one another in person, face-to-face. Unexpected, huh?
How does it work, you ask? You create a profile just like you’d normally do with any other online platforms, and then you choose your interests from its large pool of options ranging from the usual, such as traveling and reading, to the more interesting ones, such as tall people (yes, it can be an interest) and singularity (?).
Now the fun part: The pool will introduce you to a new local person everyday — someone who shares the same interests as you. And then you two will have 24 hours to chat and stuff.
Now that you’re intrigued to learn more (totally saw it coming), why not meet your first pool-mate? Let’s start with Alex Capecelatro, one of the founders of At The Pool. Below is our exclusive Q&A with him!
A: Alex Capecelatro
V: How did you (and your partners) come up with the idea of At The Pool?
A: I’m a huge cyclist and runner, an entrepreneur and a vegetarian. A few years ago I was living upstate New York working on a tech startup in what felt like the middle of nowhere. It was incredibly difficult meeting new people. It wasn’t until I was about to move that I serendipitously met someone at a diner who works in tech, likes to go cycling and shared a number of my interests. Unfortunately, this was right before I moved to southern California and quickly was in the same situation. Later on, I learned one of the Facebook founders lives in the same small town I was in. Why is it so tough meeting like-minded people nearby? I realized the Internet does a great job at connecting us with our friends and family, but a terrible job at introducing us to new people and getting us offline.
V: What would you say is the most interesting/unique aspect of At The Pool?
A: The fact that we’re building an online platform with the sole intention of getting you offline. It can seem very backwards, but it’s really the unique aspect that makes At The Pool work.
V: What’s the target demographic of the site?
A: Right now we’re focusing heavily on the college market. That said, we launch pools around pre-existing communities of people who want to meet each other. This includes affinity groups like cycling, hiking, non-profits, businesses, schools, cities, etc. 85 percent of our users are under 35 today, and At The Pool is definitely great for the young professional market.
V: How many schools are involved so far? How many members are there in total as of today?
The school is just starting out and many schools haven’t even returned from summer. We’ll be deploying to a few dozen as the year rolls out. We currently have thousands of members of more than 50 countries, and we’re growing very fast.
V: What is the future of At The Pool?
We imagine a world where At The Pool facilitates meeting the right people offline through intent-based action. For example, if you travel to New York and want to meet a fun local to visit MoMA with, we can provide that. If you’re in Los Angeles wanting to get a pick-up basketball game, we can facilitate that. If you’re looking to connect better with students at your school or employees in your organization, we introduce with the goal of building rapport and strong relationships. Ultimately we want to augment the world around us to help people be more social and welcoming by face-to-face.
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