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How Meetup Helps Online Communities In The Real World

Meetup is a trend I get. It's easy to see how the Internet plus mobile can be leveraged to enhance the experiences you have in the real world. No company bridges that gap better than Meetup. I've been a huge fan of Meetup since the company was founded in 2002. Backed early by some top VCs including Fred Wilson, Meetup has managed to stay autonomous and grow their business steadily over nearly a decade: an extraordinary feat in the world of tech startups.

"It's about collective action," says Scott Heiferman, CEO of Meetup. "How are people going to self-organize in a way that gives them more power?"

With 50,000 Meetups happening each week, Heiferman says the company is focusing on ways to "improve our experience for these people who aren't going home from work and sitting in front of the TV or Facebook, but are going to a Meetup." 

Meetup's founding principle of using the Internet to get strangers to meet in real life has blossomed into a product with millions of international users. But while Meetups are happening everywhere, at its heart, Meetup is a local service, says Andres Glusman, VP of Strategy & Community, allowing people to meet like-minded soon-to-be-friends in their area. "Our vision is for there to be a Meetup everywhere about most everything," Glusman says. "With hundreds of thousands of Meetups, we're well on our way."

With all this hockey-stick-like growth in adoption of mobile, I was eager to check in on Meetup to see how one of the original location startups was adapting to the new technologies. Here's what they had to say. 

Last week on Co.Location: How SCVNGR And Founder Seth Priebatsch Hope To Win The Location Game

Howard Lindzon is the co-founder and CEO of StockTwits—a social network for traders and investors to share real-time ideas and information. StockTwits was recently named one of the 10 Most Innovative Web Companies in 2011 by Fast Company and one of the 50 Best Websites by Time magazine.