They boast over 13 million members in 196 countries. There are 126,000+ meetup groups, well over a quarter of a million monthly meetups and last week Meetup announced that they had surpassed over 100 million RSVPs.
Scott Heiferman started Meetup in the aftermath of 9/11. He observed random people coming together as a result of the traumatic events that rocked the city and decided to create a platform to make it easier for strangers to connect with each other in their communities. He held his first Meetup, and only Dawn Barber attended. She became the New York Tech Meetup’s cofounder. But slowly, people did come and proved that the platform had legs. Meetup was one of the first companies to form in NYC in the wake of Web 1.0’s demise.
Heiferman himself had founded a Web 1.0 company: itraffic, an online ad agency which he’d built to 100+ employees before selling it to agency.com. The agency life was not really how Heiferman wanted to spend his days and after the sale, he cleared his head by taking a job working behind the counter at McDonald’s.
“I felt like working, but I didn’t want to hang out with any lawyers or accountants or investment bankers anymore. It was really nice to get your hands dirty,” he told VentureVoice. “Well, actually, my hands weren’t dirty,” he corrected himself.
Meetup has raised over $18 million in funding, from investors that include Draper Fisher Jurvetson , Union Square Ventures , Omidyar Network. Zappos’s Tony Hsieh also bought out an undisclosed Meetup shareholder last year.
For the record: there’s an RSVP counter on the Meetup home page and while Heiferman tweeted the 100 million mark just last week, the number is climbing fast.
Despite the fact that it is one of the most social-driving platforms on the web, Heiferman does not consider Meetup a social network. And he does believe in the slow and steady build.
“Engage people to care,” Heiferman advises, “because it’s one thing to make a great product, and it’s another to make something that will get momentum.”