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Home Technology 222 wants to match perfect strangers for bespoke, real-life experiences • TechCrunch

222 wants to match perfect strangers for bespoke, real-life experiences • TechCrunch

As anybody who’s moved to a metropolis sight unseen can let you know — this reporter included — making platonic connections isn’t simple. Grownup friendships are fickle beasts in metros of hundreds of thousands, the place informal mates are low-cost forex.

Statistics again up my anecdotal proof. Based on a 2021 survey performed by the Survey Heart on American Life, an growing variety of folks can’t determine a single individual as a “shut buddy.” In 1990, solely 3% of Individuals stated that they’d no shut mates, whereas in 2021, that share rose to 12%.

Many a startup has tried to “resolve socializing” with apps, algorithms and social nudges, or a mixture of these three issues. Bumble, as an illustration, has experimented with a communities characteristic that lets customers connect with each other based mostly on subjects and pursuits. Patook took a Tinder-like strategy to matching potential mates, utilizing AI each to attach customers and block flirtatious messages.

However not everybody’s discovered these experiences to be particularly fulfilling.

“[I’m alarmed] by the tech trade’s lack of deal with constructing social merchandise which are really social reasonably than purely constructed to seize consideration and exploit our need for exterior validation,” Keyan Kazemian informed TechCrunch in an interview. He’s one of many three co-founders of 222, a social occasions app that goals to — not like many who’ve come earlier than it — facilitate significant and genuine connections.

“Our society’s brightest minds — our fellow scientists, engineers and product managers — are being paid a whole lot of hundreds of {dollars} to not resolve the existential issues of loneliness, local weather change, area journey, most cancers and growing older however to as a substitute discover new methods to maintain an already mentally unwell society consuming limitless content material, all the time preventing for extra of their consideration,” Kazemian continued. “We’re constructing a product to swing the pendulum within the different route.”

Kazemian co-launched 222 in late 2021 with Danial Hashemi and Arman Roshannai. They initially got here collectively over a university-funded mission round predicting social compatibility amongst a bunch of strangers. Towards the tip of the pandemic, Kazemian, Hashemi and Roshannai — all Gen Zers (at 23, Kazemian is the oldest) — curated intimate dinners in Kazemian’s yard over wine and pasta for mates of mates who’d by no means met one another, utilizing machine studying and a psychological questionnaire to craft the visitor lists.

“People beloved the yard dinners a lot they satisfied us to attempt to replicate it with actual venues,” Kazemian stated. “In early 2022, we moved to Los Angeles and began partnering with brick and mortar places, making a market between hyperlocal venues and members trying to uncover their metropolis and meet new folks by way of distinctive social experiences.”

That market grew to become 222. In the present day, anybody between the ages of 18 and 27 can join an account — the founding group is concentrated on the Gen Z crowd presently. There’s no app — only a fundamental Typeform workflow — and the sign-up course of is designed to be easy. When you present your identify, e-mail handle and date of delivery, 222 has you reply roughly 30 Myers-Briggs-type questions overlaying subjects from film, music and cereal preferences to political beliefs and spiritual affiliation.


222’s onboarding survey.

Some are uncomfortably private — you’ll be requested about your revenue stage, sexual orientation and school main — however Kazemian says it’s within the curiosity of narrowing down potential matches. “All of our information is encrypted and used solely to higher every 222 member’s social expertise,” he added when requested about 222’s privateness practices.

222’s small print additionally signifies that information from the app is being analyzed as part of a college social science mission — a continuation of the one Kazemian, Hashemi and Roshannai led a 12 months in the past. Opting out requires contacting the corporate.


Picture Credit: 222

After answering extra questions on your character (e.g. “Is social activism is extremely necessary for you?”, “Are you prepared to have uncomfortable and troublesome conversations with your folks?”) and go-to social actions (e.g. ingesting, watching sports activities, going out to nightclubs), 222 has you record dietary restrictions and your ZIP code. You’re then requested to decide on which elements you discover most necessary in assembly new folks (e.g., social scene, political leanings), and it’s lastly off to the races.

Or it needs to be. After I tried to enroll, the web site threw an inside server error. I finally obtained a textual content confirming my enrollment, however it included a hyperlink to a webpage that endlessly loaded. Kazemian chalked it as much as teething points and promised a repair.

When the Typeform is working correctly, Kazemian says, an algorithm behind the scenes elements within the solutions to these 30-some questions to find out which of 16 classes your character falls into. As soon as that’s determined, you’ll be notified when you’re chosen for a 222 occasion — for instance, dinner at a neighborhood venue companion of 222’s — that are at present held weekly and value $2.22 to attend. Those that aren’t recruited for the dinner can select to affix for post-event mingling.

So is the algorithm any good? Kazemian asserts that it’s, and that, moreover, 222 is without doubt one of the few social apps immediately coaching and matching based mostly on real-life experiences.

“Most courting apps don’t do any form of matching in any respect and reasonably focus solely on an Elo-type rating, like in chess. Customers on these merchandise are solely uncovered to those who have the same ‘yes-swipe-to-no-swipe ratio to themselves,” Kazemian stated. “[By contrast,] based mostly on our member’s onboarding questionnaire, 222 develops a psychological profile for every new enroll … Our algorithm will then not solely pair every member with the absolute best group of strangers for a given expertise, it should additionally curate an itinerary for the night with the absolute best shopper expertise — which speakeasy, café, live performance or restaurant will this group of people have the most effective time at.”

That’s fairly a declare to make contemplating Tinder and even Facebook has dabbled with serving to strangers join at occasions. However algorithmic robustness apart, customers is likely to be cautious of attending occasions with excellent strangers. Based on a 2022 report from the Australian Institute of Criminology, three in each 4 respondents had been subjected to real-life abuse by way of courting apps up to now 5 years.

222 isn’t a courting app, to be honest. And when requested about moderation and anti-harrassment measures, Kazemian stated that the platform verifies each consumer’s identification — primarily by way of their fee data — and that venue workers are available at each occasion. Venue managers are educated on 222’s moderation and pointers and it’s incumbent on them to instruct workers, Kazemian stated.

“All 222 experiences are all the time in public and in a bunch setting, not like most courting app meet-ups. 222’s cellphone quantity serves as an emergency hotline throughout experiences, in order that members can textual content us if something ever goes mistaken and somebody will reply instantly,” Kazemian stated. “Lastly, if any member is reported throughout a nasty expertise, that particular person is straight away banned for all times.”

222 is an intriguing platform, to make sure. Nevertheless it’s powerful to think about it scaling far past its present measurement. The three-person firm (222 plans to develop to eight folks by the tip of the 12 months) has its fingers full coordinating occasions in and round Los Angeles — its dwelling metropolis — at current, vetting venues and dealing to bulk up the backend infrastructure in preparation for an iOS app launch. There’s no income mannequin (apart from a merch store); not like the now-defunct PartyWith, which shared a lot of options in frequent with 222, 222 hasn’t experimented with sponsored occasions or different methods to monetize its experiences but.

Maybe that may change now that 222 has VC cash behind it. Understanding of the College of Southern California’s Viterbi Startup Storage, the corporate raised over $1.45 million in a pre-seed spherical led by Basic Catalyst with participation from backers together with Y Combinator, 1517 Fund, Z Fellows, Crescent Fund and Marvel VC Scout Fund.

One wonders if the investor curiosity stems from the crop of recent social and courting apps that intention to spark connections in another way. A latest Crunchbase report highlights the expansion of audio-based, video-based and even meme-based social apps, which have collectively raised tens of hundreds of thousands in capital from VCs over the previous two years.

In an emailed assertion, Basic Catalyst’s Nick Bonatsos expressed confidence in 222’s development potential:

“Younger folks have been robbed of ~2 years of their social life because of the pandemic. They’ve been longing for social connection, making new mates and falling in love. The timing is ripe as 222 is providing their key viewers a well timed product — a market facilitating probability social encounters at hyperlocal venues. At Basic Catalyst, we love partnering with Gen Z technical founders who’re constructing merchandise for themselves.”

Will 222 efficiently flip the demand for social connection post-pandemic right into a worthwhile enterprise? That’ll depend upon whether or not it might probably overcome the rising pains, technical and in any other case.

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