While the last ten years of the internet seem to have been largely focused on getting social online, a new trend seems to be getting people to meet up offline. Whether it’s dating apps like Tinder or community-building sites like KillerStartups favorite Nextdoor, startups are popping up all over the internet with the express goal of getting people to meet up IRL.
The latest in that line is Patook, which is a social discovery tool for connecting with the people around you. The site is structured around “beacons.” Users create beacons and then they can interact within them – networking, marking friends, or arranging events. Beacons can be as big as a town or as small as the local library. Only people who are within range of the beacon can participate.
Patook also matches users with other people that it thinks they’d be interested in meeting, based both on ratings that they’ve given other people and ratings that other people have given them, with a touch of algorithmic magic thrown in.
Similar to dating sites, Patook lets users view a random user that fits their criteria of what they’re looking for. They also let users see who has visited their profiles, making it easier to connect with people are potentially interested in them.
One thing that I never expected when I was growing up was that, as an adult, it’s actually really hard to meet people and make friends. I was thinking this morning during my workout about the phenomenon of bridesmaids and groomsmen and how so many brides and grooms pick people that they met and became close with back in college or even in high school.
There’s just something about the way that we structure our lives in most western societies that makes it really, really hard to meet people in a platonic way, outside of our work environments. For people with non-traditional work environments – like me, a freelance writer – even that avenue for making friends is closed. Even for people in traditional work environments, friendship isn’t always desirable.
Startups like Patook are great because they help grown-ups meet people that they can connect with in their own, local areas. Isn’t it time to branch out beyond your college friend group?