This is my favorite startup idea that I wish I could build. I spent 3 months working on it in 2014, but hit a stop-gap, because Facebook changed their API permissions and this app no longer functions with the new rules Facebook put in place. I’ll get to the technical challenges and setbacks later, first let me tell you the big idea!
Imagine it’s Friday night and you want to find out what all your friends are up to. Or maybe you want to find out what’s next. NEXT events solves that problem. With NEXT we pull data from all the events on Facebook that your friends are going to and showcase them in a beautiful design, made to not only show you what’s happening, but also to give you detailed information about everyone at that event. Seems like a no-brainer right? All that information is already currently there in your Facebook Events data, we just have to pull it out!
NEXT starts by locating all your friends and all the events they are attending. Then it moves on to learning information about the attendees of the event, such as
- the average age of people
- whether the ratio skews more to men or women
- singles vs couples
- what companies people work at
- what colleges they go to
NEXT does this all in an effort to show you the network of people at that event. It solves the question of “what should I do next?” and “what should I expect from this event?” But wait, there’s more! NEXT also builds geo-fences around each event to keep track of whose arrived at the party and send you push notifications when a lot of your friends start to arrive. Pretty cool right!
In showcasing the demographic information of events, NEXT answers questions that people think but don’t ask. Some nights you want to go out and Network with people that can improve your business, some nights you want to meet singles ready to mingle, other nights you want to find people from your alma mater and act a fool. NEXT is the only place in the world that can show that to you, in real-time, wherever you are.
The real beauty of NEXT is showing you events that you’re currently not invited to. How many times do we find out about amazing events after a friend tells us about them. ALL THE TIME RIGHT? It’s not that you’re not welcome at those events, its simply that someone didn’t invite you in Facebooks complicated Event invite form. NEXT fixes this by showcasing you every event in your network, sorted by what most of your friends are going to first, the times they are happening and also with filter options to let you find exactly what you’re looking for. With NEXT you literally have dozens of options every night you go out. And reaching out to friends at those events is just an instant message away.
So what happened with NEXT? Well, in 2014, Facebook changed their API settings, so that now you can no longer see anything your friends or others are doing, unless they have the app downloaded also. Thus, making it near-impossible to get information on people at events and what events your friends are signed up for. NEXT could still work with massive user growth, but it was a long-shot. Ironically enough, a loop-hole to all this is if you had access to the Facebook API pre-February 2014, in which case they give you two more years to use the API wholeheartedly. If I had applied for my API token just one month earlier, I would have full access and we’d all probably be using NEXT right now.
I’m not fully giving up on NEXT, but it’s moved to my backburner. Someone is going to solve Event Discovery one day and it’s going to be a billion dollar business. I’m sad that I wasn’t able to make it happen, but in the startup life, sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.