Social media managers and content managers on the lookout for new ideas might feel more than a twinge of admiration (and perhaps a touch of envy) for Nirav Tolia, the young founder of the groundbreaking social networking startup Nexdoor.
Fusing physical and virtual communities
Nextdoor has a mission that brings a whole new meaning to being a community manager: to restore a sense of connectedness to neighborhoods where neighbors don’t really know each other very well, if at all. That covers quite a lot of neighborhoods these days. But Nextdoor aims to change all that: instead of operating on the assumption that virtual communities are alternatives to physical communities, it fuses them together.
Nextdoor provides a congenial virtual meeting place for neighbors to reach one another, a place where they can do anything from asking to borrow a power tool to sharing information about a local burglary or making business recommendations.
Users simply submit their email and physical addresses, whereupon they’re verified either by means of a postcard with a code or via a credit card lined to their address. As soon as they’re approved, they get access to a raft of local information including message boards, maps, and even lost and found bulletins, all posted by members of their local community.
And considering that the site’s members are now posting over half a million messages every day across 8,000 U.S. neighborhoods, this is one idea that has definitely hit upon an untapped need. Nextdoor is growing vigorously, not least because newly-approved users are encouraged to invite other neighbors to join: more than 40 neighborhoods are getting added to the site every day.
This is perhaps why the San Francisco-based startup managed to secure $21.6 million in February, taking its total funding since its launch in 2010 to over $40 million.
The next big thing?
In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, one of Nextdoor’s investors, Greylock venture capitalist David Sze (who also sits on the startup’s board) said:
“Every social network on Earth pitches me, and I say no to nearly every single one of them. Nextdoor is uniquely positioned to become the social network for your neighborhood.”
Ominously for Goliaths like Facebook and Twitter, he added that Nextdoor “has all the hallmarks of being the next great massively valued social network.”