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Los Angeles startup ‘At The Pool’ puts the social back into social media

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.”

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