Pivoting in the pandemic, Citysocializer relaunches as a ‘Get Your Guide for virtual events’

Citysocializer, previously a platform for promoting real-world socializing in cities, has relaunched, becoming something akin to a “Get Your Guide for virtual events”. Just as other startups have pivoted to ‘lean in” to current circumstances, this startup has turned its attention to how people can monetize their skills and passions from home during the COVID-19 era.

As many of us have seen, personal trainers, yoga teachers and similar types of freelance professionals have all had to shift to offering virtual sessions over Zoom and similar platforms. But until recently, these sessions were hard to monetize.

Since the pandemic arrived, Citysocializer recognized this phenomenon and quickly pivoted to a hybrid model, which they describe as being somewhere between Airbnb’s Online experiences and Meetup.com.

It’s now become a platform for virtual fitness classes, learning workshops and the like, with users in the U.K., Europe, the U.S. and Canada participating in hundreds of live, virtual group events, classes and workshops. The company has previously raised £1.5 million in VC funding from PROfounders Capital and EC1 Capital.

CEO and founder Sanchita Saha says she has seen per person event bookings increase 300% from an average of two to six events per person per month. She said: “Because the world is set to be in various stages of lockdown over the next six months or more, now more than ever people need and want to feel connected, be entertained, creatively inspired, stay fit and on top of their mental health — and the easiest and safest way to do that is virtually… Enabling workers from these industries to monetize their skills and talents by hosting their own virtual events for a captive audience who are stuck at home is a win-win situation.”

She said former workers in the hospitality and entertainment industries — hit hard by the pandemic — are switching to offering things like cocktail classes; chefs are hosting cooking classes; and singers, musicians and entertainers are using the platform to host live virtual gigs. Other activities include Games nights (Pictionary, Articulate, Bingo…); Theatre, Performance & Storytelling Workshops; Wine Workshops; Beauty & skincare classes and Guided Meditations.

But why would someone not just throw up an Eventbrite page or something similar to achieve this? Speaking to TechCrunch, Saha said: “We have a social networking and community piece that sits around the events, who are already actively attending virtual events, classes and workshops and inviting their friend networks on Citysocializer to join them as well. There are also higher repeat bookings because of this. If someone joins an event once and enjoys it, we make it easy (and they are more likely) to join future events. Hosts can build a following for their events amongst the community.”

Most events and experiences are priced £4 – £15 per household, or discounted with Citysocializer membership that starts from £9.99/month. Commercial event hosts earn 100% of the net revenue from their event bookings and can host multiple events for international users across multiple time zones.

Another startup that has appeared during the pandemic to take advantage of this switch to virtual events has been Livelink, which offers “tailored recommendations for live content and events” via email. Curators, who don’t even have to be running the actual virtual events, find the live content available and send their selection to subscribers via the platform.