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Finding people who share your active passion — to go hiking, biking, running, whatever — is a pretty enduring problem. Existing friends and family aren’t always going to be into the same sporty pursuits as you and making new buddies at the gym or crag can be kinda awkward. Ditto trying your luck on random Facebook or WhatsApp groups. Step forward Liveliness, a Spanish startup building a community app around shared sporting passions.

The freemium app, which was exhibiting this week at 4YFN during the MWC tradeshow, lets users set up a profile to find others with the same activity interests.

There’s a chat function and the ability for users to set up events other users can sign up to join. It also features a feed of (non-user) organised events, geared towards learning and improving at different sports, such as running clubs, street yoga, calisthenics sessions and so on. These can include paid events, giving the startup a route to earning commissions. It also plans to monetizes through a premium version of the app, with additional features for subscribers.

Helping users connect with qualified sports coaches is another design goal for the app.

Founder and CEO Marco Savino said he had the idea as he was keen to find people to go hiking with and wasn’t impressed with other meet-up apps (including the longtime player in this space, Meetup) — seeing a gap for an app dedicated to sporty types. “The main idea of the app is people can create plans together,” he told us. “For example, I want to go to the beach tomorrow and do running — so you can publish your plan and people can join.”

The app was soft launched almost a year ago but got a major update last summer. “We started in August last year to improve the app and get all the feedback,” said Savino. “We have — mainly here in Spain — in total like 2,300 users. In the last three months people really started to use the app, making plans, creating events.”

Users range in age from young to middle aged. There’s also a big mix of sports interests — and users can tag one or several interests — but he suggests running is currently the most popular.

“We just tried to make the app as simple as possible so people understand and know how to use it,” he added. “If you go and see all the plans you can see the people talking and doing some meetings so it’s really nice to see people starting to understand the app and use it.”

With mainstream social networks feeling increasingly broken as a human connection tool, there could be an opportunity for niche social networks like this one to quietly elbow in and build traction by creating more welcoming and community-minded spaces focused around shared interests. Fitness tracking app Strava has certainly been getting more active on the social networking front.

Hurling insults in the online culture wars isn’t a fun pastime for most people. Why not tune out the sound and fury of X et al and take a punt on a smaller network that might actually help expand your social circle?
Read more about MWC 2024 on TechCrunch

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