It's that time of the year where the weather is warming up and we can all finally crawl out of our dank, musty winter caves to pull some weeds and fertilize some annuals. (Hell yeah...I'm gonna fertilize the crap out of some marigolds this weekend.) This is the time of year where all you want to do is go offline for a bit and enjoy the sunshine. And what better way to do that than with friends? So what do you do? You get on your phone and start texting people and checking Facebook to see who's free to join you.
The point being: the world will never be completely offline again. A new startup, Lifecrowd, is taking online social networking to the streets with its marketplace for social activities, and the company announced Thursday that it has raised $5 million in a round of funding led by Lightbank, with help from Bullpen Capital, Baroda Ventures, and Prism VentureWorks.
A recent graduate of the Santa Monica-based accelerator program MuckerLab, Lifecrowd has come up with the ideal solution for all of those I-want-to-learn-how-to-make-decorative-hanging-flower-arrangements-but-none-of-my-friends-do moments. (Your friends suck.)
Lifecrowd allows you to browse through a menu of social activities ranging from volunteering to plant trees to wine tasting, all within your neighborhood. And to ensure that you don't become a shrinking violet, the activities are designed for 8-10 people to create the ideal socialization environment.
To get started, users can connect via Facebook and start scanning through a curated batch of local events, see photos and read user reviews from recent activities, join a volunteer effort, or host an event. The site uses social filtering via Facebook to make personalized recommendations to users, who can also fill out a survey upon joining to refine their interests.
Co-founders Bong Koh and Allyson Pizula tell me that "indulgent" activities--those with a focus on food and drink (think sushi rolling and wine tasting)--are the most popular with users. One of the strangest activities that has been posted on the site was in San Francisco, where an ecology student at UC Berkeley hosted session on building a potted dry terrarium.
“The social activities space is really heating up and we see a tremendous market opportunity for Lifecrowd’s approach to catapult it to the head of the pack,” said Lightbank's Paul Lee, in a statement. “Bong and his team have created a service that resonates with people, that solves the problem of finding fun things to do in your area with an online marketplace of activities that perfectly blends the online and offline components of social networking.”
The service is currently live in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County, with plans to expand to Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington DC, Phoenix, Denver, Philadelphia, and Seattle.