Social discovery network based in Los Angeles, At The Pool, has just come out of beta and currently is poised to receive seed finance worth $1 million.
The funding round was headed by Clearstone Venture Partners, but other investors include Canyon Creek Capital’s Buck Johnson, Amplify co-founder David Carter and UCLA distinguished professor Leonard Kleinrock, a pioneer of the internet’s forerunner, ARPANET.
Putting the social back into social media
Forward-looking business development associates, product managers and chief technology officers will be intrigued by At The Pool’s approach to social media, not least because it’s aimed from the outset to be a kind of anti-Facebook and anti-Twitter.
The startup’s founder, Alex Capecelatro, believes that most social networks are misnomers, keeping people apart and interacting from within their little cyber-bubbles, rather than truly generating social contact offline. And they tend to encourage virtual communication between already known groups (or “pools”) of friends, instead of introducing users to people they haven’t met before. In other words, they function more as a blockade to real social discovery than a doorway.
At The Pool’s approach is diametrically opposite and it’s clearly inspiring a growing army of, mainly young, new adventurists who want to engage in real social activities in the offline world and make real new friendships in the process. People are introduced to one another through shared interests and backgrounds and then it’s up to them to decide whether to meet.
Taking shared interests offline
Amongst the interests used to match people, “Activities” is featured most prominently in the new, post-beta design. Users simply post nearby activities they would like to see or participate in and At The Pool does the rest, sending them details of related matches in real time. Users are also updated whenever previous matches update their pictures or profiles and the “Notifications” tab provides updates on new groups (which the site terms “pools”) and affiliated events.
Capecelatro declined to share detailed user stats, but the platform (which is already being used in more than 50 countries) clearly attracts a predominantly young clientèle. Eighty-five percent are below 35, he says, and half are below 25. Furthermore, around a quarter of users return on a daily basis.
Professor Kleinrock warmly praised the new venture, which he described as “extremely appealing and long overdue.”