Instead of a network, we introduce you to new people, and instead of keeping you online, we try to get you offline — meeting new people in the real world. —At The Pool creator Alex Capacelatro
The pool party officially began at the University of Connecticut, and eventually spread to Brigham Young University's students.
At The Pool is a social network site created by a man just out of college, with the help of a small team of friends. It was launched exclusively on large college campuses all over the country. Sound familiar?
Despite the similarities to Facebook, At The Pool creator Alex Capacelatro, a UCLA grad, believes his site is different enough to carve out its own space in the social media world.
Connecticut students were first on the site, which is exclusive — you need an invitation to join. At The Pool provided a code to UConn students and 1,500 promptly dove in back in July. Over the following months, more than 45 universities have followed — the University of Georgia, Ohio University, the University of Vermont, Wayne State University and BYU.
Capacelatro wanted to create another way for people everywhere, but mostly those right by each other, to connect.
"Social networks today are built to keep us coming back and spending more time online," he said. "They are networks in that they comprise a group of people you've specifically chosen to connect with," Capacelatro said. "At The Pool is that concept turned upside down. Instead of a network, we introduce you to new people, and instead of keeping you online, we try to get you offline — meeting new people in the real world."
At The Pool launched at BYU at the beginning of the semester.
“You’re at a big school, surrounded by people who you are going to have connections with for the rest of your life,” Capacelatro said in an article for The Universe, BYU’s student newspaper. “With all of those students, there are lots of students whom you will never meet. At The Pool lets you make good relationships with people who have different interests but interests similar to yours and you connect with them online.”
In an interview for the Deseret News, Capacelatro said there is some really good feedback from BYU about the site since its launch. Numerous people have written to the team at its blog to tell about their experience outside of the virtual world, because of connections made through At The Pool. There have been plenty of comments from BYU students, he said, including one in which a girl wrote in to say she had been matched with someone who turned out to be in one of her classes; she was pleased to get the chance to meet and become friends with someone she would be able to hang out with and see, he said.
Most of the universities where the site has been launched have been those where Capacelatro and his team have friends. They have a group of students at each who help to recruit and inform about At The Pool, working to get as many people as possible.
The site and those who are a part of it changes every day, but since its launch in July there have been well over 10,000 people on the site, with people from every major city in the U.S. and in at least 75 countries outside of the U.S. At each university they've had the school paper or website write something about the site, and give the code which students can use to get directly on the site, instead of having them wait for an invitation after signing up.
The team and those helping to recruit encourage members of the site to get together in person and organize parties and events at each of the universities, like a hike in Los Angeles, where the team is based.
And this is the point of At The Pool — to make it easier for people to make new friends online, and then to continue being a part of different networks when away from the computer and out in the world.
"We feel like people today are living on social networks," Capacelatro said. "We realize people want to engage and meet new people; that is what we are doing, and we feel very strong about it."
The At The Pool team has organized a few parties, including IRL — in real life — pool parties, as well as a Christmas-themed party held Dec. 5 in Santa Monica, Calif. The team is looking at doing a lot more of these events "catered around the pool," Capecelatro said.
Capacelatro has provided Deseret News with an invite code for readers to become a member of At The Pool instantly. Just go to atthepool.com and type in: DesNews
Mandy Morgan is an enterprise intern for the Deseret News, reporting on values in the media. She is a true-blue Aggie, studying Journalism and Political Science at Utah State University, and hails from Highland, Utah.