Have you ever ever puzzled if somebody close by has the identical hobbies? Pod is a brand new social community designed to assist its members meet offline. As an alternative of simply connecting on-line, Pod needs you to satisfy potential contacts and pals in individual. Popping out of stealth at present and launching on Android and iOS, Pod hopes its AI will finally allow you to join with individuals primarily based on shared pursuits and proximity. You may obtain Pod now from Google Play and Apple’s App Retailer.
Based mostly in Manhattan Seaside, California, Pod was based in February 2019 by CEO Dr. Jo Webber, who has served as CEO of varied fintech, cybersecurity, and scientific software program corporations. Previous to Pod, Webber based youth digital fee startup Oink, which she exited in 2014. Webber and her associate Ira Lubert, an Oink investor, collectively poured $2.2 million into Pod.
Webber sees loads of potential use instances for Pod. Say you’ve obtained an hour to spare at an airport, and a recreation is on. You may see if some other supporters of your staff wish to watch with you. “Or possibly you’re a tax lawyer, and also you say, ‘I’m going to be on this Starbucks for the following two hours,’” she instructed VentureBeat. “‘And I’m comfortable to speak to anyone in regards to the upcoming modifications within the California Tax Regulation and the way they will have an effect on your small business.’ It’s simply an effective way of serving to individuals. Possibly I’ve simply moved to city and I wish to go kite browsing this weekend. So I would like to seek out someone who can go together with me. I need a photographer to come back and take pictures. All of these sorts of issues. I can join simply with these individuals on-line, after which ping them, and recommend a bodily assembly.”
Placing individuals on the map
Pod claims to be “the world’s first social networking platform that places individuals on the map.” That’s not true, after all — Fb and Snapchat each have mapping options. Nonetheless, the interactive map (powered by Google Maps, naturally) is central to Pod’s expertise.
With Pod, you create a profile, identical to some other social community. However in contrast to the competitors, Pod additionally asks you to checklist your pursuits and abilities, after which join with individuals close by. It’s a mixture of Fb, LinkedIn, and Foursquare’s Swarm.
“Our thesis, which not all people will agree with — some individuals most likely suppose we’re loopy — is that individuals actually do wish to meet one another,” Webber explains. “That individuals will make themselves seen on our map. That they are going to be inquisitive about having these connections and rising their community by real-world conferences.”
To keep away from the creepiness of a map displaying everybody’s avatar, Pod customers are set to invisible by default. You may then Go Reside to broadcast your location on the map or launch a Pod to state you’d like to satisfy in a selected location. Folks can take a look at your profile and resolve in the event that they wish to Ping you. You can even provoke a Ping your self by looking or wanting on the map. If somebody reciprocates your Ping, you possibly can chat, name, and recommend a gathering referred to as a Pod. The app saves every Pod, so you possibly can at all times search for who you met at a later date.
5 million members to start out
Community results make social apps troublesome to disrupt — and for a similar motive, troublesome to start out. Pod goes to battle to get off the bottom if new customers enroll and there’s no person on the map to work together with. The plan appears to keep away from that by beginning with a built-in person base.
In the identical month they based Pod, Webber and Lubert acquired Refer.com, which had beforehand acquired Referral Key. It was Referral Key’s person base that almost all the duo — 5 million members with 55 million connections on an internet platform. It’s a enterprise community of consultants, graphic designers, actual property brokers, legal professionals, accountants, and so forth. Each month, the net app sees 200,000 new connections between its present customers, and a few 10,000 new customers be part of.
Pod is placing all these customers on the map primarily based on their zip code, not their precise location — once more, customers should Go Reside to supply that stage of precision. When you message any of them, they’ll obtain a notification on the unique net app in addition to the cellular app. Each apps will exist for the following six to 9 months, however Webber is assured the cellular app will prevail. Over 50% of present customers are already utilizing the net app on their cellular units, “though it’s frankly a horrible expertise,” Webber mentioned.
Pod presents free and paid membership tiers. The free membership allows you to create a customized avatar, seek for connections with shared pursuits, and entry the interactive map. The premium possibility prices $10 per 30 days and makes you a verified person who can ship a “Tremendous Ping.” Though a Ping requires recipients to Ping you again earlier than you possibly can message, a Tremendous Ping can embrace a message from the outset.
The platform may also help a type of promoting. Small and medium companies can promote to their followers — say, an actual property agent selling an open home. Whenever you create a Pod, it is possible for you to to spice up it within the hopes of getting extra attendees.
“Let’s say a graphic designer decides to carry a Pod occasion and invite individuals to come back,” Webber explains. “Possibly a free seminar on tips on how to get higher social media outcomes with artistic graphics. Then when he goes to submit the Pod, we present a message letting him know the way many individuals are round him and providing him the chance to spice up the Pod for 30 minutes for $5.”
AI and ML
Whenever you open the map, Pod makes use of machine studying to point out you individuals you could wish to meet primarily based on proximity and customary pursuits. It’s largely simply primary sample matching, however over time, primarily based in your likes and dislikes of individuals, locations, and occasions that you just select to go to, Pod hopes to be taught and supply higher ideas.
“As we get extra into AI, we’re going to be actually your habits, how you employ our app,” Webber explains. “The occasions that you just prefer to go to, the time that you just prefer to go to an occasion, the individuals that you just’d like to satisfy, those you don’t wish to meet. All that info helps us actually higher analyze and perceive tips on how to serve your pursuits.”
The hope is that Pod will have the ability to be taught, for instance, that you just’re extra more likely to meet individuals associated to your skilled pursuits through the day and private pursuits within the night. On day one, Pod will begin accumulating the information it must make these enhancements. The AI-based ideas will then begin rolling out round November or December.