Social Discovery Start-Up Hyphos Helps College Students Find Activity Partners
I’ve often written here about “the social discovery opportunity” — that is, Web services that help users meet new people, but not necessarily with the intent of dating them. Sites like Tagged and MyYearbook have started to move away from the people-you-already-know scene of Facebook, but I think there’s still lots of room for innovation.
If you had to bet on one environment where social discovery might work, it would probably be college campuses. High concentrations of young people with lots of energy and optimism seem like an ideal hotbed.
That’s where Hyphos, a new Los Angeles-based start-up from some recent college grads, is focusing. Hyphos, which has been in testing at UCLA and University of Connecticut, helps online users find offline activity and event partners. They’re experimenting with calling their college service “At the Pool.”
Be warned, this is a tiny company – with only a few thousand testers — currently working on raising a seed round. But the Hyphos team seems to be doing some innovative thinking about how to make this all work.
For instance, users get Groupon-esque daily emails, suggesting one person a day in their area based on common interests. “We feel people are much less social than they used to be. Our thought is that by giving a person a day you easily can choose to meet someone,” Hyphos co-founder Alex Capecelatro told me. Hyphos is also trying to help users figure out what to do with each other, by maintaining online event calendars for each campus.
Capecelatro argued that he’s tapping into a renewable resource. “Unlike dating, you don’t get married and you’re done — you’re always looking to do new things,” he said.
You’d think this service might be a perfect fit for suggesting nearby matches based on mobile location tracking, like Grindr/Blendr, Ntro and others in the space. But Capecelatro said he worries broadcasting users’ locations can get too creepy and drive people toward using the service for hookups.
So instead, Hyphos wants to work on building an understanding of where users have been, based on their past activities and maybe build passive location tracking into its apps. Then it will suggest that users should meet other people who tend to frequent the same areas.