December 24, 2012
Fun fact about Lindsay Saewitz, the founder of CitySwarm: She once auditioned for American Idol. She was ultimately rejected – but not one to let rejection slow her down, she has gone on to become a successful entrepreneur in Chicago, one of the most thriving startup communities in the country.
Lindsay started CitySwarm, an events planning company, as a way for young adults (aged 24-39) in Chicago to expand their social circles and find fun, pre-planned activities to do with friends. The inspiration for CitySwarm came from Lindsay’s work experience planning events for her University of Michigan Alumni Association chapter. She had re-launched the association’s Young Alumni group and began planning events specifically for this demographic. She soon realized that she had a viable business model from which those outside of her alumni association could benefit.
CitySwarm isn’t your typical meetup group. One of Lindsay’s primary goals was to focus on the post-college, young adult demographic because she realized that young people prefer to hang out with other young people (not to knock the over-40 crowd). Right now, the events are limited to people aged 24-39, but she’s not ruling out the addition of groups that focus on other demographics such as “50+” or “Mommy & Me.” Another aspect that sets CitySwarm apart from its competitors is that it aims to provide a wide variety of activities. For example, their website lists past and current events including an Oktoberfest bar crawl, a haunted ghost tour, and a holiday volunteer project. They also engage subscribers by providing surveys where people can vote on events they’d like to see, ranging from skiing trips to mixology classes to indoor go-karting.
One major problem they solve is the frustration often involved in organizing and planning a group event. The website advertises:
“There’s a million fun things to do in Chicago, but too often we don’t take advantage! It’s too time-consuming to organize, too hard to get a group together, or too expensive. There are so many options, people are flaky…really, is there anything worse than organizing an event?”
Most people enjoy embarking on unique adventures with their friends, but many loathe the time and effort involved in making it happen. Not everyone is a natural-born event planner like Lindsay, so she does the work for you. There are activities for all budgets and lifestyles and even the occasional service-oriented event for those who like to give back to their community.
At present, CitySwarm only services Chicago, but one of the beautiful things about the business model is that there’s a market in pretty much every urban area in the country. I look forward to seeing Lindsay’s brainchild grow to include different demographics and events in other major cities.
Guest author Kristin Pryor is a writer interested in startups and entrepreneurship.
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