Interview With California Startup: At The Pool, Casual People Discovery Platform

People discovery is a hot startup space this year. As you’ve heard time and time again it was the startup space dejour at South By Southwest back in March. ┬áStartups like Ban.jo, Glancee, and Highlight ruled the roost on the streets of Austin during the interactive festival.

Now four months later, Glancee has been purchased by Facebook and the others are getting just passive traffic (I know some may disagree). One of the problems with people discovery applications are the in your face constant notifications that occur when you’re logged into one of the services. You get inundated with notifications about people you don’t know and sometimes don’t even want to know. There has to be an easier way.

Enter “At The Pool”

The Los Angeles startup offers you a once a day match based on interests and things you may want to do off line. Are you looking for new rock climbing buddies? Maybe you’re looking for new friends to start some pick up hockey? Maybe you’re looking to talk startups or even build a startup? Well At The Pool says there’s a pool for that.

Just what does that mean? Well we talk with At The Pool’s co-founder Alex Capecelatro to find out about their pool party. Check out the interview below:




What is at the pool?

At The Pool is a place to discover like-minded people nearby. Through a once-a-day match, based around interests, members get introduced with the goal of getting together offline. Whether you’re looking for someone to go cycling with or discuss startups, there’s a pool for you on At The Pool!

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

There are two of us full time (myself and Dan Wilhelm), and five students who work with us part time. I was previously in the design department at Fisker Automotive, and have a history of working with new technologies to transform and disrupt different sectors of society (I am an engineer by trade). Dan dropped out of his PhD program at Caltech to head up development efforts (past experience with Google, Microsoft, etc). Design is extremely important to our philosophy, and our design efforts are lead by Jason Hsin.

Where are you based?

Los Angeles, CA.

How did you/they come up with the idea?

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. At The Pool aims to tackle that fundamental human behavior: meeting new people.

What problem does at the pool solve?

It’s incredibly difficult and frustrating trying to find like-minded people nearby. Dating sites are good for dating, but not much more. Meetup is good for finding group events to go to, but it’s a tough place to connect with someone new. When you look at what tons of people are searching for, they’re searching for people close by who share their interests. We’re providing that platform. Members join pools around their interests in order to meet someone new each day based on what they explicitly want to do.

Who are your competitors and what’s your secret sauce?

Meetup is the largest comparable site, although they focus on organized group events and At The Pool focuses on discovering new people with a 1-on-1 interaction. Dating sites like Badoo, Match, and OkCupid do a great job at finding a romantic partner, but don’t lend themselves to connecting platonically or professionally. Mobile apps like Mingle, Highlight, and Glancee are in the “people discovery” space by displaying who’s nearby, but they lack intent and don’t do a good job at fostering trust and relationship building. At The Pool is very focused on providing the right content and context to build rapport and establish a connection. More-so, we remove the social awkwardness of meeting new people by suggesting someone for you, every day, based on an intelligent interest-based algorithm.

What’s one dilemma you’re either facing or have faced in the startup process?

The biggest dilemma I face right now is time. I’m designing and developing, marketing, fundraising, and everything else that goes into it. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but having a few more hands on deck would allow us to move faster, try more things, and get to market quicker.

What’s next for at the pool?

We’re currently in closed beta, with around 1,500 people testing things out and taking part. We’ll be rolling out to different communities this summer as we finish more of the product and get ready for prime time.

 

Linkage:

Here’s At The Pool’s website

Nibletz is the voice of startups “everywhere else” here are more interviews from “everywhere else”

We’re sneaker strapping it, could you spare a bus pass?

 

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