OPW INTERVIEW - Aug 20 - I used to run an adventure and social club in Silicon Valley. It was a singles club that wouldn’t admit to being a singles club. AtThePool.com reminds me of my little club. Yes, its great for singles, but that’s not really what its about. Here’s my interview with the CEO/Founder, Alex Capecelatro. - Mark Brooks
What is your founding story?
AtThePool has been live for just under a year. Our goal is to help people connect offline, so not too different from a typical dating site, except we're not focused on dating.
I had been moving around quite a bit in the States. I found incredibly difficult to connect with people around me. I began working on At the Pool when I was living in a town called Beacon, upstate New York and it was probably the most depressing time in my life. I was building a chemical manufacturing company out of an automotive garage, and it was extremely isolating. I tried Meetup, but it didn't really work up there. I tried Facebook but Facebook doesn't really help you meet new people. I tried dating sites and learned that a lot of people using dating site not for dating but to get out and meet new people.
So the initial thought for AtThePool was to create a really easy and fun way to meet new people in your area based on your interests.
I've got a whole ton of questions for you, but one question just is burning in the back of my mind, what were the chemicals in the garage?
Long story. I have a background as a chemist. I spent a number of years doing that. With a couple of friends out of MIT, we developed a new class of materials based on Aerogel, which is the world's lightest material.
I sold lasers, and we had to measure Aerogel, and it was very difficult to measure. Amazing stuff!
Our company was called Aerogel Technologies, and we were pretty much the only manufacturing plant in the world that's making Aerogel.
Are you a fan of traditional idating sites, or are they broken? What do you think?
Idating is getting more and more popular. It's here to stay, and it's just getting bigger.
Would you say you're more of a social discovery? You're discovering new people to hang out with.
The website is 100% social discovery but we have a new app that is coming out in about a month. The app is very different. The app is looking more at your existing relationships connecting to people nearby, and it's not so much about meeting new people. Meeting new people is interesting and exciting if you're in a new town, but on a day-to-day basis your existing relationships are overwhelming. You know a lot of people that you are not following up with, you know people who are probably right around the corner that you just haven't caught up with in quite a while. Social discovery is interesting, but I don't feel like it's an entire product. It's really a feature within a greater product, and that's how we are evolving our company.
What do you think of Meetup?
I have a lot of mixed feelings about Meetup. I love the mission. It's really good in the business community but it really doesn't resonate with the young community. Part of it is the design and the user experience. It's more than 10 years old. I feel like they need to reinvent themselves, or they are not going to stay relevant to the new crowd.
So how are you making money?
At this point we are focused on execution and growth. We are not focused on revenues right now. We do have a couple different models that are in the works and that we are experimenting with. The first one is launching sort of white-label pools, communities of people that have a reason to meet. There are pools we can white label and drop into conferences and other events we are getting a lot of attention and a lot of attraction to.
The other one is local deals. For example, we know who in Santa Monica is into yoga, into cycling or surfing, because that's how our interest graph is built. What we are doing is building a recommendation engine, and if we scale the right way that's a huge business.
How many members do you have now?
We are not disclosing the number, but we have members in over 95 countries. The growth has just blown us away, it's been pretty phenomenal.
Are you looking for funding?
We raised funds about 7 or 8 months ago, and we are well funded for the next year. We're not looking for money right now, we're just focused on executing/launching this mobile product, and just having a good time.
What is AtThePool and GetThePool going to look like in one year roughly?
I'm extremely excited about the mobile launch. Our goal ultimately is not one year out, but maybe five/ten years out. We believe the entire world needs to be connected. I want to be able to travel anywhere in the world, connect with the people around me, and be able to get offline.