Chances are, if you and your friends regularly hit the hot spots in Center City for a few brews to catch up, you’ve noticed That Group. You know, the one that continues erupting in laughter every five minutes, so excited, so symmetrical, split with three guys and three girls, you wonder how on earth a group outing of that size hits it off so well.
Well, what you might be observing could actually be the result of Grouper’s excellent social pairing skills! Grouper, the online-to-IRL social club sweeping America’s major cities, hit Philly in 2012 and has seen tremendous success thanks to its concierge for Philadelphia, Ashley Taylor. With groups of three-on-three, Grouper plans out an entire evening to meet new people in your own city. We were able to check in with Ashley for a bit and find out why she thinks the Grouper method creates such a fun way to both bond with your own friends and meet new people.
Philthy Mag: How did you first become involved with Grouper?
Ashley: I went on my first ever Grouper and had the time of my life – I’m talking hide and seek through the city, karaoke until 2am, rolling into work the next morning with a breakfast burrito and leftover mascara…that kind of time of my life. And I’m not the kind of girl who stays out late on a school night normally. After that I was hooked and had a sort of professional crush on Grouper until I worked up the courage to apply. The rest is history.
Philthy Mag: What were the immediate reactions of friends and peers to something like this?
Ashley: So positive! It’s a really simple and really unique concept so it’s greeted with a lot of enthusiasm!
Philthy Mag: Have you always been the “matchmaker” in your friend circle? Has that changed at all since starting at Grouper?
Ashley: I love being the wingwoman for my friends and I can’t help but connect new people. Hearing the stories of what happens when we make these connections is one of my favorite parts of what I do!
Philthy Mag: Why do you think the “Grouper” method works?
Ashley: It works because it’s real. We really believe in technology as a means to an end, so we get people out of the vicious cycle of profile stalking (Facebook or dating service) and researching and wondering and creating this mental idea of a person who only exists in imagination that actually meeting face to face is so old fashioned that it’s become unique. Plus, on a Grouper everything is arranged for you, you have a concierge to text if you need anything during your Grouper (that would be me!), and you have 2 friends there with you!
Philthy Mag: What kind of challenges does the “Grouper” method present (that might not be evident on one-on-one dates)?
Ashley: I get the question a lot “What if 2 of us like the same girl?” It actually doesn’t happen as often as you’d think. There are so many different ways that a night can play out that it’s pretty rare that there is any “competition”.
Philthy Mag: What has the range of reactions been like from users? Any particular feedback about a “best match” or unprecedented disaster?
Ashley: We hear it all and members don’t tend to be shy to share since that’s how we can make their experiences as epic as possible. No specific stories, I can’t “kiss and tell”, but if you can imagine it, we’ve heard it.
Philthy Mag: What kind of research do you look into with your users to find well-suited groups to match?
Ashley: We take matching very, very seriously. Overall, there are five main criteria we take into account, including: age, educational background, profession, interests and lifestyle. Our goal is to introduce our members to a group we feel that they would get along really well with – and we determine the compatibility of matches based on historical data of similar groups. We also are always open to any direct feedback or suggestions a member has on who they feel they’d have a good time with. At the end of the day, our goal is to work with our members to understand what types of people they enjoy meeting and make it happen.
Philthy Mag: Have you met your own expectations with the success of Grouper Philly so far?
Ashley: Aah, I love Grouper Philly! Since Grouper is so simple, introducing two groups of three friends each over drinks, Philadelphia Groupers are just as epic as any other city!
Philthy Mag: Have you tailored the Groupers to fit into Philadelphians’ lifestyles or features our city has to offer?
Ashley: We host a lot of Groupers in Center City and Rittenhouse with venues like Fado and Bonner’s; we’re also in other neighborhoods too like King’s Oak in Northern Liberties. We challenge our members to take Groupergrams on their Groupers and post a pic to Instagram with the hashtag #groupergram – sometimes crews get creative with city landmarks, I love seeing the Liberty Bell or the Ben Franklin Bridge get included!
Philthy Mag: What do you do to pump yourself up before going on a Grouper?
Ashley: Quick cocktail with the wingwomen, a dynamite playlist, a few brainstormed ideas for our Groupergram, and let’s be honest, probably and outfit change or two. Then it’s gametime!
Philthy Mag: How would you encourage those reluctant to try online-to-real world dating experiences to try out Grouper?
Ashley: I don’t blame them – Grouper is totally different though! You go in totally blind, which adds to the fun and means there’s way less pressure. We set up literally everything for you, make sure you have a reservation and include a drink, you have a concierge available to ask anything from a second venue recommendation to subtly passing your digits along to pretty much anything you can think of at amy point in the night (no joke. The night of your Grouper you can text me until 3am), and absolute worst case two of your friends are with you.
This month Grouper is running a limited number of Valentine’s Groupers every Friday, so be sure to get in on the action! You can like Grouper on Facebook to check out adventures they’re promoting for friends like yours. You can also watch the fun unfold on Instagram.
visit www.joingrouper.com to start your journey!