You are what you do
There are so many conversational, everyday questions we use to decide the trajectories of our lives. Questions we ask everyone from our closest family to strangers. At Doing, we think a lot about one of them in particular:
What do you want to do?
This question can mean so many things — your interests, how you’re feeling, where you work, your obligations — what you do means so much more than simply how you spend your time. So, what do you want to do? is a much deeper question than it might seem at first.
Maybe because it’s a more complex question than it seems, there still isn’t any one place to explore and discover all the possibilities of what do you want to do? There are countless event calendars, listings, invitation services, and so on, but none of them serve as a comprehensive source of what’s happening around you. We knew we wanted to create that resource. So we set out to figure out what’s been missing.
What are you really looking for?
We realized services that aggregate events and activities often feel weak from both sides, and that’s a huge challenge: our product would have to attract both people who want to do stuff and places that have stuff to do. So, how do we build something that people actually want to use, where so many have failed?
We started with the question what do people really want when they’re looking for something to do? When you have an itch to get out there and do a thing, there are so many human needs you could be fulfilling. To name a few:
- Enriching an interest you already have
- Connecting with people in the real world
- Trying something new
- Meeting new people; making human connections
- Self-reflection and discovery
- Killing some time
These are all fundamental things you do to keep your brain happy. But depending on which of those options you want, the output will look very different. For example, if you know you just want to pass some time solo, you might go to a movie or find an interesting museum. If you want to meet some new friends, the movie theater or a museum might not be the place to go — instead you might go to a meetup, or a speed dating event.
But one size doesn’t fit all. Getting you to a movie involves discrete showtimes and ticket-buying options, whereas the museum just requires you show up during business hours and pay the entrance fee. And maybe the speed-dating event is free if you sign up. Serving all of these experiences well looks different depending on what you’re up to: speed dating has different requirements than selling you tickets to a movie, which in turn looks different from letting you know there’s a beautiful rose garden nearby that offers free tours.
So we had these two fundamentals to build on:
- Doing needs to be flexible — like, really, really flexible — because we want to represent as many different experiences (and different types of experiences) as possible.
- What we do with our time is a huge part of our identity.
We know that representing those two things well will be a huge part of our success.
Flexibility = Utility
One of the reasons finding things to do is difficult: data about events and activities tends to be siloed in whatever service event organizers are using to publicize.
We knew that if we could capture a wide variety of experiences from a wide variety of sources in one platform, we could deliver a better and faster way to help people expand their horizons. We do this in three ways:
- Partnerships — We’re building a platform that collects and beautifully displays data from sites like Eventbrite, Ticketmaster, Facebook, Meetup, and many more. Eventually, you’ll be able to buy tickets and pay entrance fees inside Doing, rather than getting kicked out to a different site to purchase.
- DIY — Businesses and individuals alike will be able to create their own events and activities. Soon, they’ll be able to offer details, admission, and special offers directly through Doing.
- Indexing the open web — There are plenty of organizations and events that simply place a calendar on their website, and nowhere else. So to make sure we actually deliver everything, down to church bingo nights and high school football games, we’re building powerful tools that search websites large and small to capture every last thing you might be interested in doing.
Our goal is for Doing to be a centralized calendar for just about anything you might want to do. While this will be a powerful way to finally see all there is to do on a given day, we don’t want to limit you to paid events. After all, things like comedy open mics, lectures, classes, volunteer opportunities, recreational league sports, etc. could be just as important to you as your favorite band or sporting event.
We’ll show you where you can find whatever you — as in, you, specifically — might be into.
Not just that, we hope to be a powerful tool for venues, artists, marketers, event organizers, and experience makers to showcase their events and activities. We know we can also help them connect with their fans, supporters, and regular customers. Doing’s flexibility means you can use it to organize and promote anything from a private house party to a wedding reception to a huge arena concert. We hope to show you what we mean soon with some of our business partners.
You are what you do
But there’s another piece to this: the solutions out there now to help you find activities assume you already have an idea of what you might like to do. Even if you’re looking to try something new, you have to know that you want to, say, attend a lecture, or watch a sports match. Basically, a logical response to “what should I do tonight?” might be “well, what do you like?” Indeed, this is how most recommendation engines find things we might like to do. But that effort, again, requires you to already know what you like and what you might like.
That’s why this problem is harder than it looks on its face, and why none of the options currently available are satisfying. It’s why simply having a shit-ton of data isn’t enough. That doesn’t solve the fundamental problem behind what should I do?: we define ourselves in large part by the things we spend our time doing.
This might be most prevalent in how we often describe ourselves starting with our occupations — much of the time the first words out of our mouth are: “I am a [profession]”. But the things we do with our free time have a more important function: they help us define — for ourselves and others — the kind of people we are. We want to be (and be perceived as) a person who does X or who likes to learn about Y.
So maybe the better response to “what should I do?” is “who are you?” Or, more interestingly: “who do you want to be?”
Besides showing you everything you could do, we also want to help you find things when you have no idea what to do. We’ll learn what you like, but also who you are — and who you want to be. The more we know about you, the better the recommendations we can make. Maybe if you like ballet but you also want to find a new guilty pleasure, you’d like pro wrestling, which contains the same athleticism, emotion, and storytelling as ballet, but requires much less sitting still in fancy clothes. Or maybe if you’re a huge statistics geek but you also want to spend more time outside, you could attend a workshop on filling in box scores for a baseball game — one of the most statistics-rich sports around. Maybe you love baking and you want to give back to your community more, so you find fundraisers that take the form of Best Brownies contests. Whatever the things you like — and whoever you want to be — there are ways to expand those interests that more linear ways of understanding a person’s interests will completely miss.
That’s why Doing is different
We think this combination of collect all the things! and so who are you, really? is key to finding experiences that will really resonate with you. With a single place to find all your interests (no matter how different they are from each other), Doing will be able to understand who you are and actually make relevant recommendations for you wherever you are in the world.
We can’t wait to help you experience more of the world around you.
We’re working hard to make Doing as awesome as we know it can be — and we just completed an early version. We’re not quite ready for a full launch just yet, but if you can already tell you’d love to use Doing, sign up to get early access here. We’re currently available in Portland and San Francisco.
We’re also fundraising and hiring. If you know anyone who’d love to sink their teeth into this problem, and be part of a team dedicated to building the solution, we want to talk.