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Business // Entrepreneurs
Christina O’Connor

New Site Allows Social Interaction With Safety

Cynthia Tercier

Cynthia Tercier

When Cynthia Tercier moved to the Islands from Philadelphia to attend Argosy University, she didn’t know anyone. She made friends at school, but everyone was so busy – with school, homework and other obligations, Tercier and her friends all seemed to have different schedules. On her days off, it was difficult to find somebody who was able to go hiking or to the beach.

“When I had time to actually go do something, there would be a lot to do, but nobody to really do it with,” she explains. “It was hard to meet someone to be able to hang out with.”

A friend of hers recommended she try Meetup.com, an international social network that helps people plan activities with one another in their area. While she liked the site, it didn’t exactly serve her needs. Most of the activities she found were organized in advance. She was looking for a bit more spontaneity.

“What if I want to go hiking on Wednesday and it is already Monday? I still want to be able to find somebody to go with,” says Tercier, who graduated from Argosy with a master’s in clinical psychology in 2013 and currently works as a marketing coordinator at H&R Block.

“That is when I started thinking that there should be a site where you can meet people to go do activities with whenever you want.”

After months of planning, Tercier launched FirstInter-action.com last month. The site provides a venue to meet new people and plan outings in their areas based on shared interests. There’s also an added element of safety that other social sites don’t seem to have: After a 30-day trial, members must go through a background check for a $15 fee to continue their account.

“I am more likely to go meet up with somebody who had a background check,” she explains, adding that this means no felons will be on the site, at least among members who have upgraded their accounts.

According to Tercier’s market research, the site is most likely to appeal to people in their 20s and 30s who relocate regularly.

Currently, Tercier is building up the site, continuing to fix glitches. The site was down for a day or two last week while she redesigned it, but the down time was worth it. When it was completed at the end of the week, it returned with a cleaner, more user-friendly look.

Once you’re on, here’s how it works: The “groups list” tab will take you to a list of groups organized by state. In the Hawaii network, local users have created eight groups so far, spanning interests that include biking, dog walking, paddleboarding and nightlife.

The site currently has about 125 members, and groups also have been created in several other states, from California to Delaware.

Early users have requested that there be an instant message function where you could join up with a last-minute activity, such as a night on the town, for instance, by chatting with the participants directly. It will work best, Tercier reasons, if the users are logged on through their smartphones, allowing for even greater spontaneity. First Interaction will unveil the new feature soon.

“That will allow people to connect instantly with others,” Tercier explains.

Another forthcoming feature is to provide a space for participants to upload videos of the activities that they found through the site.

“I want to promote that you can meet people and go out and do new things, while also having a sense of security,” she says.

To learn more and to sign up, visit FirstInteraction.com.

coconnor@midweek.com

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