MingleNow, the latest social networking company that has been in development for many months, launches a public testing version tomorrow (Monday).
MingleNow is best compared with Yelp, because it focuses on the social community around bars and restaurants.
Only MingleNow goes further. It wants to give people hanging out at bars and restaurants ways to interact with each other online too. If you frequent a bar, for example, you can put your profile up on the bar’s page within MingleNow, share stories about the bar, and see the profiles of others who frequent that bar – getting a glimpse of the personal details of someone you might have flirted with (see screenshot below of an example for Suite181 in SF)
This fall, MingleNow will hold offline events at some of the more than 900,000 locales it features.
If MingleNow were to focus on just this, it would be enough. But the company also wants to be a one-stop shop for social networking. It provides users with a social calendar that can be exported to a Myspace or other blog pages — a way to show your friends whether you are busy or free on a given night. It also gives users blogs.
Indeed, it has produced so many networking features that we’re wondering whether it might be overkill. Some sites, like Google, work because of their simplicity. You type in a search term, and hit return, and don’t do much else. MingleNow requires quite a bit of investment to maximize your use of it, and that could be its main hurdle — since there are so many other sites out there. But it could also be a big strength, if the partying set were to fully embrace it.
MingleNow is owned by Blue Lithium, an online marketing company in San Francisco. Krishna Subramanian, the company’s lead developer, is a former club promoter, and DJ, and wanted to build something that bridged the gap between networking online and offline.
The idea came, he says, after he saw people at clubs and bars creating online profiles, and noticed nothing was connecting these two different lives. So MingleNow brings them together. MingleNow is building pages for every bar and restaurant in the country, so this is a massive effort. The company let us know about its plans early this year, so it has been in the works for months.
MingleNow also allows you to earn VIP points. You get points by inviting others to join MingleNow, and you can redeem the points offline, with free drinks at bars, for example. Bar owners see it as a way of reaching out to new potential customers, and letting them know about promotions.
The initial business model, of course, is advertising online.