Oh, the community pool! Blistering summer days in and out of the water, hot sandwiches in plastic bags and bees dancing around the open mouths of Coke cans. For many of us, those youthful days of socializing in the sunshine have given way to the 2 am number exchange on the way out of the bar, but one entrepreneur is looking to bring that youthful, summery sense of community back with a startup aptly titled At The Pool.
Entrepreneur Alex Capecelatro is in the midst of launching the new network to help people connect with locals offline and to get out and participate in the things they love to do with new friends. The service uses an intelligent matching algorithm to give you a selection of locals who are into the things that you’re into, and you can even join particular “pools” related to your interests to expand your network.
We sat down with Capecelatro, who talked with us about his own frustrations that led him to create the new network, his numerous inspirations as an entrepreneur, and the next big features coming to At The Pool this year.
What was the inspiration behind At The Pool?
I’m a huge cyclist and runner, an entrepreneur, and a vegetarian. A few years ago I was living in upstate New York working on a tech startup in what felt like the middle of nowhere. It was incredibly difficult to meet new people.
It wasn’t until I was about to move that I serendipitously met someone at a diner who works in tech, likes to go cycling, and shared a number of my interests. Unfortunately, this was right before I moved to southern California and I was quickly in the same situation.
Later on I learned one of the Facebook founders lives in the same small town I was in. Why is it so tough meeting like-minded people nearby? I realized the Internet does a great job at connecting us with our friends and family, but a terrible job at introducing us to new people and getting us offline. The aim of At The Pool is to fill that gap.
When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I wouldn’t say it was a single moment. I’ve often built my own projects and worked on solving curious problems. Launching At The Pool was the result of meeting some incredible co-founders, a serendipitous investor, and the realization that we could do a lot of good with this venture.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
I spend my time running in and out of meetings, dealing with the business side of the things, but also brainstorming the product vision with my team and coding a lot of the site. While there’s no typical day, I often work late into the night and don’t have much of a social life.
I try to run/bike two to three times a week. That said, it’s 1 pm on a Sunday afternoon and I’m currently in the office with my team.
Who are some people that inspire you?
I get really inspired seeing people attempting the impossible. I love what Jeff Bezos has done and continues to do. I’m a big fan of Reid Hoffman and his outlook on relationships and the intangible value they provide.
I like big thinkers like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs whose ideas literally changed the world. And I love seeing people like Tim Gill, who is constantly building and experimenting and learning.
What was your first job?
My first real job was back in middle school/high school at an apple orchard in upstate New York. I started off making apple cider donuts and sweeping the floors.
By the time I left I was managing, handling the cash, and opening/closing the store. I learned a lot about both good and bad management styles, and the importance of great customer service. It really is the little things that make a difference in someone’s day.
As a busy entrepreneur, how do you like to relax?
Honestly I am pretty driven by At The Pool and what we’re building, so I have a hard time relaxing. I work a lot because I love it and constantly want to do more. That being said, At The Pool is a place to meet new people and get offline, so I often do meet extraordinary people on the site and get together for lunch or a bike ride or a hike.
If you could add any person to your team right now, who would you choose?
I would add an awesome front-end developer who knows/likes mobile development as well. I have been doing a lot of our front-end development on a full-time basis and know we would move faster with someone dedicated to just this.
What’s next for At The Pool?
We’re a few weeks away from launching a major update simplifying the site and focusing the direction. We’re launching a ton of private pools for organizations, universities, non-profits, and other communities that want to connect their members. 2013 is looking like an exciting year so far!