A New (& Awesome) Kind of Online + Offline Community

I’ve written before about real human connection, and how I think there will be a trend towards technology which brings people together in real life.

With my own startup Party with a Local, I believe I’m seeing first hand the early stages of a new type of social platform: one that brings new people together in real-life, for activities, events and shared experiences (nightlife in our case), and not for dating / hooking up, or networking.

Dating App Fatigue

Dating app fatigue is real and people are looking to connect with new people on other levels — to make new friends with similar interests, and find people who want to do the same activities / attend the same events as them. Some people are even using dating apps just to make friends.

We state very clearly in our app’s on-boarding and early communications to users that we are not a dating app. The feedback we get back about this is overwhelmingly positive. And the number of users, both girls and guys (single or not) who write something on their bios along the lines of, ‘not looking for dates’, ‘no dates please’ ‘#NoDating’ is increasing daily (and very pleasing to our team).

We get tons of messages from Party with a Local users like this:

Tinder is a lot of things, you can’t deny it’s global popularity and how it has revolutionised dating, but one thing it is not is a community (it’s perhaps closer to a transactional marketplace or a game — swipe, swipe, ding!).

And Tinder Social? Tinder’s attempt at connecting groups for ‘friendships’, by many reports it hasn’t really taken off yet, despite significant investment. I think that’s because there’s a stigma around the primary use-case of Tinder being a dating / hook-up app (and Tinder Social IS apparently being used for orgies… according to this article on Vice).

We may not have the scale of some dating apps yet, but we also have a distinct lack of fake users, bots, posers, prostitutes, scammers, superficial people, mean people, creeps… and dick pics! (though we do very occasionally see one, and before we permanently block that user, it’s a truly harrowing experience for anyone on our team who sees it! …what’s wrong with some guys!? Stop it! 🍆🙈).

What about Meetup.com?

I really admire the global platform that Meetup.com has built for connecting groups of people for real-life ‘meetups’. However I don’t think this is the best, or only, way to connect new people in real-life. There’s a lack of spontaneity in Meetup events — they are usually planned well in advance (which needs to be done on a slightly dated UI & clunky desktop experience), the amateur event organizers running the events need to pay to run a Meetup group, and the events themselves often tend to gear towards larger group meetups for singles, or networking events.

One of our users summed it up, when we asked him why he signed up to Party with a Local:

Something Different, Something New, Something Special

There’s something different and special about the Party with a Local community we have built so far, and it’s on full display when you meet someone new via the app, and/or at the events we run with the community. It’s usually a diverse group of people you meet, and a very welcoming, spontaneous, relaxed and fun-loving atmosphere. I’m of course biased, being the Founder, but I haven’t really experienced that too many other places when meeting new people. It’s Awesome!

It doesn’t matter your nationality, your background, what school you went to, what you do, how much money make, whether you’re single, your sexual orientation, your religion etc. If you are open-minded, open to meeting new people, up for new experiences, and like to have fun, then you just belong.

One of our first Party with a Local drinks in New York

At one of our recent ‘Thirsty Thursday’ events in Amsterdam we had a group of around 20 people attend — a diverse mix of locals, expats & travelers (10+ nationalities, from Aruba to South Africa). A traveler from Kyrgyzstan arrived and sat down at the long table with the group. One of the first thing he remarked was: ‘Do you all work for the app? You all seem to be really good friends.’ …We had all met 10 minutes before he arrived.

And this is not something confined to Amsterdam, where we are based — we’ve witnessed this first hand as a team, and had the same special feeling in New York (where we were for Techstars Connection), Berlin, Lisbon, Lille & Kuala Lumpur. And we’ve heard similar stories from users on every continent (except Antarctica, we do have 1 user there, but he’s still waiting for someone new to visit his remote scientific research station, until then: #partywithapengiun 🐧).

Why is it different and special? I believe part of it is actually a sense of relief with the type of connections we facilitate and at the events we and others in the community run — ‘Yay, there’s not the pressure of an awkward date!’ or ‘Woot, this isn’t another boring networking event!’ There is actually a really interesting and open-minded community of people that want to just meet, share experiences and have fun. Not have some ulterior motive for meeting.

Party with a Local meetups in Lisbon, Berlin, Lille

Technology, and in particular software and apps, are permeating every aspect of our lives. It seems obvious to me it will also be used to meet new people (for something other than dating or networking).

The next big social platform will be about connecting people in real-life. It’s going to be amazing. I truly believe that. …And hope it’s us who have started building it! 😃

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