At The Pool, the Los Angeles-based social discovery platform, is today rolling out a big re-design that sees the startup becoming laser-focused on creating the “anti-Facebook” social network for young people. In its February 10-K report, Facebook said that it is at risk of losing young users to other services that are similar to or act “as a substitute for Facebook.”
Not only that, but as a whole, polls like the one from the Pew Research Center show that people are spending less time on Facebook, some abandoning it altogether. As the Washington Examiner reports, “38 percent of [Facebook] users aged 18-29 — the focus of advertisers on the site — plan to slash their time on Facebook this year.”
At The Pool wants to be one of those “similar” or “substitute” services to capitalize on this Facebook attrition. To do that, whereas Facebook keeps you online with people you already know, says the startup’s founder Alex Capecelatro, At The Pool focuses on “getting you offline and connecting with new people.”
At launch in July 2012, the service was exclusive to the Los Angeles market, but since then, At The Pool has gained members in 83 countries and has now made over 1.8 million connections for its members.
To continue that growth, the startup is today launching a new homepage. The old version of the site used to show updates from people you’ve been connected to, activities, pools and notifications in a grid format, but now the site just features “splashes,” or the activities going on around you. Now, when a user visits the homepage, they will see what people are looking to do and can easily add what they’re looking for — whether it be a designer for your startup, a roommate into rock climbing or someone to grab lunch with at SXSW.
When a user splashes one of these from the homepage, the service alerts up to five people nearby who are likely into the same activity as well (based on their behavior and personal usage data, etc.) in an attempt to make it easy to connect with people. Prior to the redesign, At The Pool had a very rudimentary version of its “splashes,” experimenting with placing them on the bottom of the profile page, and so on, but Capecelatro says they’ve been getting the most engagement front and center and began introducing members based on splashes.
“It’s much more integral to the entire flow of the site, and it essentially acts as an ice breaker, much like a Facebook poke but with context,” the founder says.
Users will also find that the site has brand new “Pool” pages, which now let you see who else is in a pool, both new and existing members, so that you can see which of your friends in your hood are in the TechCrunch pool — to use a completely random example. Users can also post directly to a pool as well, so if you wanted to find a roommate that plays tennis, for example, you could post “looking for a roommate” into the tennis pool. Makes sense, right?
The founder says that At The Pool is sneaking up on the million-user milestone and hopes to pass it soon. In terms of plans to actually make money (in true anti-Facebook fashion), the startup raised a seed round in November and, going forward, Capecelatro sees opportunity around connecting local merchants and deals with consumers, based on its interest graph.
Up next, the startup is working on an enterprise model to offer exclusive pools to conferences, companies, and other organizations and has plans to build native apps over the next quarter (adding to its existing mobile site).