Meetup has been around for a while, but growth has been staggering of late. The company recently announced that it has surpassed over 10 million meetups and 100 million RSVPs since it launched almost ten years ago.
We sat down with founder and CEO Scott Heiferman to discuss the increased interest in Meetup.com to maybe get better insight into why users are flocking to the idea now.
Meetup is a tool that lets people use the internet to get off of the Internet and meetup in real life. Organizers pay a monthly fee to set up the meetups, and then users from the whole of the community can RSVP to interact with others based on various passions and interests.
The site is now used by one in every seven New Yorkers, though it’s a global product, and there are around 10,000 – 15,000 meetups that happen each and every day. But the big numbers didn’t fly in quickly.
According to Heiferman, the first 50 million RSVPs came over the course of the first seven or eight years, and the second 50 million happened in the past couple years.
“We’re a weird story in our little industry,” said Heiferman. “A lot of people think that if you don’t become Google or Facebook right away, that you don’t matter. There’s some idea of a normal lifecycle for a startup. We were successful from the get-go, but when you’re doing something hard like getting someone to go online to get offline, you have to be in it for the long haul.”
Of course, the boom in mobile has certainly helped Meetup’s growth, but Heiferman actually believes this increased growth has more to do with a larger shift in the way we treat the internet.
Once the internet became mainstream, services like Facebook and Twitter have aligned themselves to provide a friend-filtered form of it. But the web used to be about something different, about finding the others.
According to Heiferman, the old promise of the internet was that you could connect with people who were like you, but that you’d otherwise never meet. That’s why he created Meetup in the first place. Though most people believe that the internet is somehow safer or more friendly now that we see it through the lens of our friends, there is also a growing trend of wanting to connect outside of your own sphere.
“The world is starting to be ready for Meetup, but isn’t really ready yet,” said Heiferman. “But I think we’re about to get there.”