A letter to Foursquare’s product team

I had an idea this morning, and I’m fairly certain it is brilliant. I should preface by saying that I want to meet people. I am (skeptically) reading a book about dating and joined a gym this morning, but I spent last night (Friday) watching Community at a local coffee shop because I don’t have WiFi in my apartment (this week’s ep was fantastic indeed!).

But this isn’t really about dating. It’s about living in a wonderful city with lots of fun things to do, being too busy to do them all and when you are free, not able to find a person to enjoy things with. As much as I love art walks and film festivals, it’s at least ten times more fun to attend with someone.

I thought to myself, why isn’t there a social network that allows you to create a calendar of things you’d like to do, by putting specific places or events onto specific dates, and other people could search the calendar and find a buddy to join them on the excursion? I would want a basic profile, including a picture, some hobbies, what neighborhood I live in, my favorite things – just enough information to give a stranger a glimpse of who I am.

Should this be an app for an existing network, like Facebook or Foursquare, or be its own thing?

Thing is, on Foursquare, you can already make a to-do list. And when I think back to when I first tried Foursquare – a year and a half ago (early adopter!) – I was under the impression that the concept was, I check in to a place, and my friend Wanda who lives in town will say, hey, Danielle’s at The Linkery, I could go for a burger – I’ll go meet up! Thing is, Wanda can’t meet up for a burger if she’s in the middle of a run. Hanging out is time sensitive. We need to plan ahead.

So, perhaps I could plan my weekend on Thursday, make a list of all the things I sort of want to do. I might not get to all of them, but maybe a friend I haven’t talked to in awhile was hoping to hit the same farmer’s market. We’re friends on Foursquare, she can see my calendar, and shoot over a message. Or, just + my to-do to her to-do list.

But these excursions should be public. Someone new to town could pull up a calendar and see what is going on this weekend. Even switch to map view for a specific day to see what is going on nearby. Today, it would have been nice to know that St. Patricks is having a festival two blocks from my house ahead of time, rather than discovering it when driving by on my way somewhere else.

Any location you can check in, you can add to a to-do list, on a specific date, and write a short summery on what is going on there. You’d select the location – Gaslamp Theaters – but note that it is film festival weekend and the flick you’d like to see is at 3 p.m. Or, put Julian on your list for all day Saturday, because you want to drive up and get some apple pie, go for a hike and walk around town. Brunch. I don’t have enough brunch in my life – what if a whole group of people met for brunch?! Ah, the possibilities.

I believe there is not enough of “meeting people with similar interests” that happens. This isn’t just about dating, but it could be. If you want to meet someone, they tell you, go do things you like and meet someone who likes the same things (Must Love Dogs, anyone?). So then you date the only interesting guy at the gym, because you like to be active, it doesn’t work out, so you do what … join a different gym?

Execution is key. A network like Foursquare already built a reputable platform where you can hide the location of your house for privacy and safety concerns. People aren’t suddenly going to start seeing it as a meat market to find hookups just because you can can post a place you’d like to go on a date and find someone who’d like to join. It’s activity-based, not person-based. And for every person who does get a good date out of it, 20 more could just find friends in a new town! Just think of all the people in my town who have DVR and might have let me come over to watch Community – could have saved me a $3 hot chocolate!

I don’t know; maybe Foursquare already has this in their future (I hope so!). Perhaps they’ve already ruled it out as not the direction they want to go. Maybe I’m just terrible at meeting people and would like to take the nerdy route and make an app for it.

So that’s my pitch – I think it’s solid! If you’d like to know more, or contract me to help develop this concept, Foursquare, please find me at @danifankhauser. Thanks.