Mobile

Uniiverse releases mobile app to get people away from screens and into ‘real life’

Image Credit: Uniiverse

Having fun can be hard work sometimes. Uniiverse launched a mobile app today that connects people with nearby activities, so the process of finding fun things to do is easier.

Uniiverse powers a marketplace where over 26,000 local event organizers and service providers can post activity options. All the activities involve meeting new people in real life and include foodie events, craft workshops, music lessons, and yoga.

The company also draws inspiration from sharing-economy companies like Airbnb, TaskRabbit, Lyft, and SkillShare. Listings include skilled people, as well as space, ride, and item sharing.

“In a society where children and adults alike spend countless hours in front of screens, tools that encourage authentic ways to meet new people in real life are more important than ever,” founder and CEO Craig Follett told VentureBeat. “Uniiverse was founded on the belief that human interactions are getting too virtual, and we want to remedy this by enabling people to discover unique things to do.”

To help users navigate the listings, Uniiverse has built a recommendation engine on top of social data from Facebook, Twitter, and Google. It recommends events based on what you like or what your friends are doing.

The whole social-local-mobile trend has been going on for a couple of years now, and slates of startups have tried to capture the market for “fun stuff to do nearby.” Foursquare is the best known example, while dating apps like “How About We” and social apps like Grouper and Meetup focus more on connecting people in the “real-world,” and travel apps like Peek showcase specific activity options.

Many of these apps struggle to gain significant traction and make money. The reality, it seems, is that making new friends remains an old-school process, and the companies that have really benefited from SoLoMo (I know, I hate it too) are Airbnb, TaskRabbit, Lyft, etc., which emphasize paid services rather than social activities.

Uniiverse draws inspiration from these companies to provide a one-stop-shop where you can find an interesting art event and someone to lend you a drill in the same spot.

From the iPhone app, people can book and pay for activity and service listings, create listings, discover and browse listings, check out profiles of new people to meet, and see what friends are up to.

Earlier this summer, Uniiverse released a Direct Payments feature that enabled peer-to-peer payments for activities and services on a personal website or blog. A yoga teacher can sell Saturday classes in a park, or a food blogger can sell tickets to a cooking class. This helps individuals directly sell their services without having to go through a middleman.

Uniiverse is based in Toronto and has raised $1.25 million in funding from Real Ventures as well as angel investors.

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