You know what I quite enjoy? Going to random meetups. You know what I don’t enjoy at all? Organizing meetups. I’m perfectly happy to swing by a bar to crash a “People Under 30 Who Like Pictures Of Cats In Sweaters” (or whatever) meetup. But to actually start my own meetup group? Yeah, not something I’d do.
That’s why I’m digging the idea behind Ovooko: You tell it what things you like, pick a venue and date, and Ovooko will automatically invite a bunch of like-minded people to come hang out. As Ovooko’s founders put it, the service is like Pandora but for meeting people.
When you first sign-up, you’re asked to pick a handful of interests, like bowling, or blogging, or surfing, from a list of 40 or so. You can add your own interests manually later. (My current interest list: blogging, bowling, lasers, and fight clubs.)
These interests serve as your personality markers, defining which events you get invited to and which events you create other members are considered “potentials” for.
To create an event, you pick a date, a venue from their pre-provided list of 20 or so, and the interest or interests you want to focus on. Want to hold a blogger meetup? Okay. Want to narrow it down to beer-loving, geo-caching musicians? Sure, why not! Ovooko scans its database for members with all of the interests you’ve selected. Once it finds at least four, your event can be created and the invites are automatically sent out.
On a side note: I actually intended to write about Ovooko last week, but decided against it at the last minute…and the company’s response was incredible. You see, co-founders Brian Anderson and Nicole Baker had totally managed to sell me on the idea in a pitch over the phone. Once I actually got access to the site, however, I had to backpedal. While the core idea was sound, the site looked… Well, it looked terrible. For everyone’s sake, I just couldn’t write about it. I shot an e-mail off to the Ovooko folks explaining my decision and offering a bit of feedback, but didn’t really expect to hear back from them.
But then I did hear back. Roughly a week or so later, they e-mailed again — and to my surprise, it wasn’t to call me a jerk or to tell me I’d ruined their lives by not writing about them. They’d taken my feedback to heart, overhauling every last pixel of the site’s design. In just six days, they’d taken the site from something that looked like it was built in the earliest days of the Web to something that feels perfectly at home on the modern Internet.
Old Ovooko (Left) vs. New Ovooko (Right):
That’s the sort of drive I love, love, love to see. And it’s made all the more impressive by the fact that Ovooko is still completely bootstrapped, though they’re looking to raise a seed round ASAP.
Ovooko is launching in San Francisco only at first, with plans to expand to other cities as they work out the kinks. Check it out here.