For many Coloradans, finding the time and the right people to enjoy the natural playground we live in with can take quite a bit of effort. Our sun-drenched surroundings contain accessible activities that tempt us into ditching the desktop and diving into the great outdoors, but turning the idea of being active into an actual action can sometimes become a chore. Thankfully, one Denver-based company is looking to solve that problem by merging the usefulness of technology with the world of outdoor adventure to produce a new type of society for people on the go. Fittingly, they call it Gociety and the goal is simple - to use technology to get you outside with active people simply and spontaneously.
I recently caught up with co-founder Anna Thielke to find out how Gociety is building a business around a passion for an active, outdoor lifestyle while using technology to break down the traditional barriers that keep you from actually getting outside.
"Essentially, we've created a business around our passion to be outside and active, which is pretty great," said Thielke. "We've built Gociety to connect people around the activities they love. People can create or join outings based on sports, intensity and skill level as well as location, time, etc."
The platform, which is being developed as a website, mobile web, an iOS app and an Android app, is seeking to connect users through a variety of ways while focusing on the concept of event creation. "We have two main types of events," explains Thielke. "The first is groups. These are completely user-generated. If I want to go rock climbing today, I could create a group and people can join in. For groups, we do have a set list of activities, but we have included a 'fun in the sun' category to cover the occasional volleyball in the park or spontaneous game of flag football."
Of course, outdoor enthusiasts tend to have similar interests in what's going on around town as well and Gociety's second type of event, called a "Happening", just so happens to provide the hook up. "These are Gociety-curated events in the community," said Thielke. "Happenings could be anything from an avalanche training workshop to a craft brew festival. It's a list of what we think will put you next to people similar to yourself. Obviously, being from Denver, we have plenty of material to work with!"
While "fun in the sun" and random "happenings" are a hip option within Gociety, getting yourself motivated to conquer personal goals and meet like-minded individuals is also core to the experience. The platform is being designed to encourage users to go beyond their normal comfort-level in physical activities as well as location. There is a location based filter to narrow results though, so if you're planning a trip to Colorado or are here already, you could pick up Gociety and get involved right away.
As much as Colorado has to offer in terms of outdoor activities, doing the same old thing is bound to be boring. Discovery of new activities and people is a prominent feature of the platform as well, so if you've really been wanting to go climbing somewhere but your friends can't make it on the days you're free, you could create a group on Gociety and others could join you. For the developers, it's about removing the boundaries between your adventure idea and your adventure action while in the process affording you the opportunity to meet a new friend.
That sounds great on paper (or iPad), but while meeting new people through similar interests is generally great, Gociety recognizes privacy issues that might arise and has addressed them head on. "We have a very simple way forward with privacy," explained Thielke. "Currently, the person who creates a group has to accept or deny the other group members. Our plans for the future include the ability to match people with others of a specific skill level. Say you're an avid backcountry skier and you want to find someone to hit some tough backcountry with. In many cases, it's important to really know that someone has avalanche gear and knows how to use it. Sometimes avoiding the awkward scenario just involves finding exactly the kind of adventure partner you need."
Still in its early stages, Gociety seems like a natural fit for the development scene here in Denver and as Thielke pointed out, there probably isn't a better place in the country to launch such a project. "This has been the most amazing experience! We are the venn diagram intersection between the technology, startup and outdoor industries. All three have a vibrant home in the city of Denver. To boot, the Gociety office is in the Battery 621 co-working space with the likes of Spyder, Icelantic, Wink Inc. and many others. All of these factors give us energy, ideas and collaborative opportunities that are priceless. I'm thrilled to say we've seen nothing but love from Denver."
If it's nothing but love that you have for enjoying an active lifestyle, you should know that the Gociety website and mobile web is in the second round of beta testing with the goal of offering a full release by ski season (late fall). The iOS and Android apps are planned to follow close behind. If you're interested in checking it out, go to Gociety.com and sign up for the company's emails. They'll be sending email subscribers the first heads up when they're live, which truly underscores the effort being merging technology with your next taste of the great outdoors.