In the aftermath of the 9/11, Scott Heiferman felt that something had changed in the way people interacted together. They would start to care about each other and talk in the streets while neighbours would meet for the first time after years of living in the same street. He felt that most of the time, people didn’t even came across each other while living in the same area as they didn’t have the opportunity for. He then decided to found Meetup.com, a website that would “use the internet to help people get off the internet” and connect communities together. There we were, 9 months later, the baby of the 9/11 was born.
Meetup.com is a platform where you can register and attend any kind of events. The users don’t pay any registration or participation fee, making the service free for 90% of its users. On the other hand, organizers of meetings have to pay a premium, making it an unusual freemium model as Meetup does not even run ads. However, the main revenue for the organizers themselves is the recognition and fame to be part of the “organizer community” as well as the possible future benefits generated by the meetings. In accordance with the principle explaining the success of collective intelligence systems, money is thus not the only reason behind the success of Meetup. Furthermore, all the meetups are completely independent, giving all creativity and decisional power to the users.
Thanks to its unlimited possibilities, Meetup quickly gained support and popularity with today 15.92 million users from 196 countries. This recognition started when democrat Howard Dean launched his presidency campaign by using Meetup to plan meetings and talks. Despite that Meetup was barely known at that time, Dean Meetups peaked at about 143 000 in 600 different locations. Each participant could leave his email address, and make a donation in addition to his voting power, so many reasons making Meetup a genuine mine of gold for politicians. Nowadays, even Obama has supportive Meetups all over the USA. And that’s what truly is beautiful about Meetup: from Obama’s presidency talks to an “Internationals in Rotterdam” evening; there is only one click.
But, in the end, what makes Meetup different from Facebook, where events can also be planned? First, as the organizers have to pay a fee to place their event on the website, the quality has been enhanced. Second, it seems that more persons that register on Meetup actually go to the event whereas it is far from being the case on Facebook. In addition to this, based on your selected interests, location and the meetings you attended; the website gives you recommendation on further meetings that might interest you. To make it even better, these recommendations are based on both active and inactive data making this functionality is really usable and customizable even during your first utilization of the website.
I first heard about Meetup from a friend who moved to Boston this year. Alone in this new country, she wanted to meet people outside her job quickly and decided to register for her first meetup: a gardening session on a rooftop in Boston! She quickly got sold on the project and especially the fact that these meetings would mix internationals and locals. As being myself part of an international community in a foreign country, I could relate to the desire to meet locals and I freshly registered to a “Rotterdam praatcafe” which is primary meant to foster meetups between internationals and native speakers.
Now, do you want to meet up?
- Clifford,C. (Dec 2013). Meetup CEO: We’re doing what Google, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter can’t do. Entrepreneur.
- Jeffries, A. (Jan 2013). New Meetup.com will finally get you off the internet. New York observer.
- Marcin. (July 2010). Meetup.com- an interesting freemium model.
- Sifry,M. (Nov 2011). From Howard Dean to the tea party: the power of Meetup.com. CNN.
- Thaeler, J. (Sep 2011) How 9/11 inspired the birth of Meetup. Newspapergrl.