So what do we generally do when a crime takes place in your neighborhood? We generally call the cops, gossip about it, tell our loved ones to be careful and then finally move on, right?
Well that’s not the case in many neighborhoods of US. People in these neighborhoods have actually become more responsible and are taking matters in their own hands.
Well, Nirav Tolia and Sarah Leary has launched a social networking service for neighborhoods in the United States which allows the people of the same neighbourhood to connect with each other.
So this is how it works!
To begin with, NextDoor is designed to be a problem-solving site! Members have to give their “real” full names as well as verified residential addresses to join NextDoor neighborhoods which on-an-average comprises of 750 households.
The people who are not from the neighborhood cannot join or view news feeds. For security & privacy measures, nothing that you post or see on a particular neighborhood on NextDoor can be indexed by Google and can only be viewed by its members. Apart from that, its users also have an option to leave out the numeric house address and can just end it with the street address.
Also, NextDoor has integrated 50 different sex offender databases and the people listed on these won’t be able to join or view the neighborhoods, you can also say that they are banned from accessing the site.
Apart from tracking crimes and safety issues, the neighbors can also place ads and create groups related to interests, exchange information related to recommendations for baby sitters and dentists, etc. and a lot more!
Basically, they have managed to create a whole virtual replica of the physical neighborhood.
Now, as much as it is solely focused on gaining revenue on the long run, the idea indeed has managed to reduce the crime rate to a minimum and along with that it has brought the neighborhood a lot closer to each other too.
So how did they actually begin?
Although they are now into somewhat community service stuff and doing pretty good at it too but then again was this their plan since inception? Well sadly no! That wasn’t their initial idea.
NextDoor initially started-off as Fanbase in 2009, with an aim to create a user-generated content version of ESPN. But to their hard luck that idea didn’t get the desired response and crashed badly.
So in an attempt to fix the mess they started testing different ideas for the next 4-5 months. After many failed tests they finally reached to a life-saving model and thus transformed or should we say pivoted Fanbase into NextDoor in September 2010 and piloted with Lorelei, a neighborhood in Menlo Park.
So how has NextDoor been doing since their inception?
Well, during the childhood days / months of the company, NextDoor didn’t bring about any big changes and just focused on building its user base. It kept spreading the word amongst the neighborhoods and just waited for the site to gain popularity.
For roughly a year or two they continued that and then out-of nowhere made an announcement of fundraiser worth USD 18.6-Million in July 2012 from Greylock Partners, Benchmark, Pinnacle Ventures, Allen & Company and a few others.
Clearly, it meant that they were gaining the desired popularity and now needed funds to sustain that. That was also proved in December 2012, when Forbes announced its team-up with NextDoor to assess 500 small metro areas with populations between 5,500 and 150,000.
Since 2012, they managed to attract more than 8,000 neighborhoods across US along with 40+ being added every day. To top that; as soon as they heard that police departments and fire departments were also keen on getting integrated into their service, they began the process and within no time police departments in Dallas, San Jose, and Orlando were given access to their latest NextDoor’s “Virtual Neighborhood Watch” to communicate with homeowners.
The company also saw initiatives from the cops from Dallas when 300 neighbor police officers were being trained according to the site.
Now, over the years NextDoor has faced their share of problems too and mind you some really tricky ones such as; exhaustion from social network, difficult marketing techniques, convincing customers with giving their residential addresses and physical proof of it, trust issues, etc! Overcoming all the problems the company has grown to 10,000 neighborhoods.
Although Nirav is really shy on sharing his user details but then a birdie tells us that the site till October 2013 had approximately 10 million active users & 22,000 neighborhoods.
To sustain the growth, since the beginning of 2013 the company has made two huge fundraisers as well; one being in Feb 2013 worth USD 21.6-Million from Shasta Ventures, DAG Ventures, Benchmark and the second being in Oct 2013, worth USD 60-Million from Tiger Global Management, Benchmark and a few others. With this the company is said to be valued at somewhere close to USD 500-Million.
Presently, NextDoor has added nearly 43,000 neighborhoods and is growing at an unmatchable rate, as the users are getting more reasons like announcing yard sales or sell used goods, finding local handymen or babysitters, or to keep everyone from the neighborhood in loop about the discussions and debates happening in the hood.
The Harris Interactive 2013 online survey conducted amongst 2,021 U.S. adults in June 2014 also suggests that as a whole NextDoor has brought about a huge difference in getting the neighbors & neighborhoods closer to each other.
But then when we look at it the other way around, NextDoor has raised more than USD 100-Million in the last 18 months with absolutely no revenues or revenue model in place. The only companies with such scenarios are the photo-sharing site – Pinterest which was valued at USD 3.8-Billion, the online retailer – Fab.com which was valued at USD 1-Billion & the photo messaging site – Snapchat which holds a valuation of USD 3.5-Billion.
This has began to raise questions to the credibility of venture capitalists as to whether they are blowing up another technology bubble to burst by just throwing funds at unprofitable start-ups? Share your views with us.