LifeCrowd, the first startup to emerge from the newly-formed TechStars Network member MuckerLab based in L.A., is today launching its marketplace for social activities into public beta. The company, which aims to provide a curated selection of quality events, happenings, classes and outings, is available now for users in San Francisco, San Diego, and all of Orange County, Calif., as well as in its original test market of L.A.
Only a month and a half old, co-founder Bong Koh says the concept for LifeCrowd is very simple. “We just help you meet new people and try new activities,” he explains.
“That ranges from sushi making to wine tasting to rock climbing,” he adds, “and the emphasis is on local, but also casual, intimate and social – those are the words we use to describe ourselves.”
To be clear, LifeCrowd is a different type of service than something like Meetup.com, because it’s not about forming groups that meet regularly with a single focus, it’s about listing activities that are going on right now. That positions it closer to something like Eventbrite, perhaps, but the events don’t have to be as professional and structured (as many of Eventbrite’s are). For example, Koh says that some members recently organized a game of kickball using the service.
Currently the session size for the events is trending towards 8 and 10 individuals – big enough to allow you to meet other people, but not too big as to be overwhelming. More importantly, the service isn’t sucking in long lists of nearby events from outside sources – they’re all being listed through members, and curated by the LifeCrowd team for quality.
“When it comes to community building, you need to have a positive customer service experience,” says Koh. “We’re going to be very careful about ingesting and integrating other activities and events [from outside sources]…events are going to be curated, and hand-picked.”
In other words, the event listings on the site may not be as long and thorough as those featured by your hometown paper, weekly mag, or other events guide, but that’s by design. LifeCrowd is aiming for quality over quantity.
In addition to curation, LifeCrowd is also using social filtering (via Facebook) and personalization techniques to help recommend the activities that you would want to participate in.
One thing I really do like about the service is that they’re partnering with volunteer organizations to list their events as well. A lot of people want to go out and volunteer, but they don’t know how, Koh explains. In early tests, this section of the site is already seeing some traction, he tells us.
LifeCrowd’s other co-founders include Bong Doh Koh (Bong Dug Koh’s brother), Allyson Pizula, and Andy Wen. Advisors include eBay employee #3 Mary Lou Song, former Zynga exec Padma Rao, new Groupon VP of Consumer Products Curtis Lee, VideoEgg co-founder (now SAY Media’s) Matt Sanchez, Blackboard founder Tim Chi, and others.
The team said they chose MuckerLab because of the founders’ Silicon Valley expertise as well the fact that they’re all former eBay guys, something that would prove useful as LifeCrowd is developing its own online marketplace. (For paid activities, a portion of the price goes to the service).
As for expansion to other markets, that’s further down the road. “If we can nail it in these first few markets, then we’ll have something pretty exciting here,” says Koh.
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