BELONGING

Venn is a different kind of social network

By

Angela Cravens

– VOL. 4

If you’re anything like us, the shifts of the past year and a half have been the tipping point between a world already oversaturated with social media—to entirely dependent upon it. Friendships, dating, family bonding, work. Suddenly, everything went entirely online. And as the world starts ever-so-tentatively to open back up again, we’re rethinking our relationship with and participation in the online world. This time around, we want our social networks to have a little more humanity in them.

Take a look around—there’s plenty of evidence to suggest IRL connections are coming back. Maybe you’re participating in a social media detox this summer. Or just trying to be more mindful of combating Zoom fatigue with some fresh air. Maybe you’re swiping with the desire to get offline (March 29, 2020 was Tinder’s first-ever day of 3 billion swipes—a record that it would go on to break over 100 times throughout the year). But something is surely changing. Netflix just reported its worst first quarter in eight years. Sure, they might have finally hit a plateau, but maybe we’re also switching off the screens.

Image of a different kind of social network

 The Life at Venn app is just one part of the Venn platform and is designed to foster real-world connections between Neighbors. 

As much as we’ve all adjusted to the remote-work life, experts think a hybrid model is more likely in our near future. Roughly half of Americans say they want to return to the office, at least a few days a week. The motivation? Some say they miss collaborating in person, but most say they want to see their work friends. Even Google believes in the importance of in-person collaboration. During a video interview for Time 100 last year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said, “We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having that sense of community, is super important for whenever you have to solve hard problems.”  

At Venn, our online platform is part of our DNA. But we wouldn’t be who we are without the all-important human component of what we do. Social networks missed something important the first time around—faces. And we think that’s going to change in the post-Covid world. People, and making it easy to connect with people, have always been a critical element of what makes Venn Venn. We like to think of Venn as an operating system for your neighborhood. With Venn Hosts, it’s like your own personal Apple Genius for the place where you live—here when you need us, easy to find, quick with the answers.

Social networks missed something important the first time around—faces.

One of the ways that we do this in neighborhoods around the world is by empowering Building Leaders, people who know their neighborhoods inside and out, and love connecting others. Venn gives Building Leaders the tools they need to keep the neighborhood humming, host events, and welcome newbies. They turn buildings into thriving micro-communities. 

“I’ve lived here my entire life,” says Charlene Downs, a Building Leader in Kansas City. She describes herself as a people person, attracted to the program by her passion for Midtown. “I love my city and transferring that love of city to people is no different. Recognizing the diversity of the city and allowing people to be who they are—it’s vital to our program’s success.”

Image of neighbors connecting with a different kind of social network

Venn Hosts are the human face of the Venn platform and help Neighbors put down roots in the community.

As great as it is to be able to do so many different functions on the Life at Venn App—from paying rent to asking for something to be fixed—people are the all-important element that make a neighborhood feel like a home. That’s why in Bushwick, Building Leaders are hosting a luncheon for neighbors this fall. And in Kansas City, they help neighbors work out together, raise funds for local charities, or enjoy a happy hour with local musicians. 

Charlene’s building in Midtown is situated on a quiet street with just 12 units. This compact environment has only added to the feeling of community in the building. “Meeting at the mailbox just as you would on any other neighborhood street, except ours is in a common area indoors, was my aha moment,” she says. “I smiled from the inside out. It’s been the best place for me to meet many of my neighbors.”

While the Venn “operating system” keeps things humming, it’s the smiles of people like Charlene that make everyone feel like home. And as we all adjust to “the new normal,” we’re looking for a lot less FOMO, and a whole lot more fun. We may even find that we now value the people in our lives—the ones we actually see IRL—a little more.