Meet and Greet, Bond and Enjoy the Day… Networking Sites, Apps Show You How | Pune News


The growing loneliness of the millennium has spawned a plethora of social networking sites and apps that create platforms within cities to help people connect both online and in person. Thanks to these, we can meet, communicate and later go beyond small discussions to generate group activities of common interest.
Meetup has worked well for video game designer Mangesh Thombare (30), although his interest is niche among the multitude of activities on offer on the popular networking site. He enjoys board games and looks amused when someone suggests he could play “Ludo” or “Snakes and Ladders”. He points out, however, that most Indians are not even aware of the games he plays.
Thombare and other members of his group play complex strategy board games after lunch every Sunday for about six hours straight at the cafes in Baner and Pashan, which are empty by this time. Most of the games are imported from the United States, Europe, and Japan. An average game costs around Rs 8,000 and Thombare has a personal collection of around 60 games.
Thombare and his group flutter between the tables of the chosen cafe, playing two or three games simultaneously. One of the games, Settlers of Catan, requires strategic thinking even if it’s about rolling a dice. Catania is a fictional island with settlements and players must collect resources, build more settlements and roads, and ultimately capture the whole place.
Apart from board games, the site has many categories in Pune for coders, programmers, hikers, hikers, footballers, and those who love to read books. Several categories are focused on the domain – for example, coding and programming meetups are very popular in the computer centers of Hinjewadi, Baner and Vimannagar.
Interestingly, the site was launched after September 11, when New Yorkers came together for mutual support. A major boost for the site came in 2004 when Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean used it to organize support at the local level.
While the site is in the process of forming groups, Hoopin, an app designed by Sanket Kalekar and Pranav Chitanand from Pune, brings people together for events but terminates the association there. People get together for only one activity, then go their separate ways; there is no exchange of numbers and no sending of friend requests, says Kalekar, 25.
Since its launch last year, subscribers to the app have organized around 50 activities each month. Nishigandha Khaladkar, a student at the National Institute of Design, hosted a sustainability-themed clothing exchange event. His belief was that even though the clothes have a lifespan of about 15 years,
you get tired of them after about three years, so why not trade them with others. For her, a workforce culture can go a long way in reducing the amount of clothing that goes into landfills and, in doing so, help the environment.
At a Harry Potter event, people came with their first edition books and even the wands they had bought on their travels overseas. During a poet-musician meeting, poems written by some participants were set to music. The musicians also tested their original compositions on the audience. Another event featured a fun discussion of the cross between Sheldon of the Big Bang Theory and Chandler of Friends. And, of course, a member short of a player or two for their football team can post their request.
Kalekar says he currently has between 750 and 800 followers, with their average age being around 25. Seed funding from seven investors has helped Kalekar with his initiative, but he does not yet have a revenue generation model. He hopes to grow and operate around 200 cafes, restaurants and other venues over the next two years. It also envisions a subscriber base of around 7,000 users by then.
Kalekar says his business is unique in the country and compares it to an on-demand radio cab. What appeals to its subscribers is the flexibility regarding groups: if you can’t join one, start one.


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