The company, which has $11 million in funding from Goodwater Capital, Founders Fund and Floodgate, started as a social planning app that helped folks find each other in the real world, based on interest and geography.
Over time, the company realized the power of the calendar itself. No one has successfully made the calendar social, explained cofounder Abe Shafi. Where you can follow someone's music on SoundCloud or follow their updates on Twitter, how can you follow their events?
Pre-pandemic, those events were physical events, with people communing in a venue. But the coronavirus may have split open a much wider world for the startup, which recently pivoted into virtual events.
Through API partnerships with YouTube, Twitch and Spotify, as well as user-generated content, IRL (which now stands for In Remote Life) wants to aggregate all the virtual events across the globe into a curated, categorized home page. That may include an esports tournament, a virtual concert, a Zoom cocktail party or a webinar.
Critical to this push is a web presence, which launches today. Folks can follow content producers, or simply get alerts on individual events. Importantly, IRL is also launching an 'add to calendar' button that content producers can add to their own websites.
For now, that 'add to calendar' button embed is only available to select partners, with a waitlist for others interested in adding the button to their website.
Co-founder and CEO Abe Shafi explained the company's monetization plans with TechCrunch, though warned that the current focus is gaining a critical mass before flipping on the monetization switch.
"The way we think about making money is around monetizable intent," said Shafi. "When you're on Facebook or Instagram, your monetizable intent is pretty low because you're interested in what your friends are up to. Whereas, when you're on Google your monetizable intent is really high because your intent is to find something and go somewhere else. Our monetizable intent is much closer to a Google search than it is to a Facebook or an Instagram in the sense that people come to IRL to go to other people's content that they're monetizing in one way or another."
Importantly, content producers must use the app to add their own events to the platform, but Shafi told TechCrunch that the company has plans to add that same functionality to the web product.
When asked whether IRL would get into content creation itself, Shafi said that the premise of that "gives him a headache."
"We want to be the bank," said Shafi. "So many great people are creating content. Getting into the content business is its own beast. If we can be seen as the best place to discover it all, that's a huge win."