Lifecrowd has recruited Silicon Valley veteran, Jacquie Phillips, a former Product Manager of Google Offers, to join the Los Angeles startup as a co-founder and its new Head of Product.
The five-month-old Lifecrowd, which only one week ago launched its Social Activity Marketplace into public beta, aims to connect its users, or “enthusiasts,” with interesting new people and curated offline activities. Lifecrowd’s tagline is, “What are you waiting for? Life is short. Do something different,” challenging potential users to get offline and experience the world.
The service is currently available only in San Diego, Orange County, San Francisco, and its home market of Los Angeles, where rapid adoption during a two month private beta proved the concept. As for the future, Lifecrowd’s website lists ten upcoming cities including Chicago and New York, each of which offers a signup tally counting down the remaining “Lifecrowders needed to get the fun started in ‘X’ city.”
Phillips joins co-founders Bong Dug Koh, his brother Bong Doh Koh, and Allyson Pizula. All of the co-founders were recent Los Angeles transplants and experienced first-hand the pain point of finding interesting activities and the right people to share them with.
Group sizes for Lifecrowd’s activities currently average between eight and ten people and seem to emphasize a casual, intimate and social vibe. The founders were quick to point out that their value proposition isn’t discounted activities. Instead, Lifecrowd offers discovery and community. Users are able to browse activities ranging from rock climbing and yoga to wine tasking and cooking, look at photos, read reviews, and invite friends.
Each market can be filtered by neighborhood, and activities are broken down into five categories: Indulgent (food & drink), Active (outdoor & athletic), Creative (arts & crafts), Eclectic (other), and Special Interest (volunteer). Through an optional “lifestyle quiz,” the company can also offer personalized recommendations.
All events are listed by members and curated for quality by the Lifecrowd team. They seem to be taking this process extremely seriously, in spite of its obvious barrier to scaling. On the ground, they are building small teams of one to three community managers in each market and promoting and rewarding tastemakers and influencers within it user base as “Elite Crowders.”
Lifecrowd is the first startup to graduate from Los Angeles accelerator MucherLab. It seems like a smart concept, although one ripe for imitation. The sole differentiators among potential competition are going to be early-adopter brand recognition, variety and quality of offers, and whatever “cool factor” the company can attach to its product and community.
Phillips will play a key role in solving roll-out problems, drawing from her role in the launch of Google Offers, as well as previous senior product positions within Boutiques.com and Life.com.
Additionally, the team is relying heavily on its advisers, which include Groupon VP of Consumer Products Curtis Lee, founder of GeoCities David Bohnett, eBay employee #3 Mary Lou Song, former Zynga exec Padma Rao, and Blackboard founder Tim Chi, among others.
Lifecrowd raised its first round of funding in September 2011, totaling $2 million. Investors include Baroda Ventures, Bullpen Capital, and Prism Ventureworks (where Bong Dug Koh was previously an EIR).
If Phillips, the Koh brothers, and Pizula can capture the imaginations of their users in these initial limited markets, the site might evolve into a sort of Gen-Y and Millennial bucket list. Because if there’s one thing lacking in this world, it’s a source of unique and exciting offline stories we can go back and tell our friends about online.