The chat room, reinvented – topical, never empty and live

A pop.in is a spontaneous real-time gathering of people around topics they care about. It opens once multiple people want in on a conversation and when everyone leaves, the pop.in is over. You can start your own pop.in or find pop.ins where people are talking about the things that matter to you.

Would you recommend this product?
7 Reviews5.0/5
Hello Product Hunt community, my name is Alex Kruglov and I am one of the founders of Smiletime, Inc., the company behind pop.in Our previous product Smiletime allowed creators to make live video that was interactive and inclusive of its audience. We learned the magic of spontaneous connection and the civility that strangers feel with each other when they are on video together. But Smiletime was perceived as a live streaming product and we quickly realized that we had the right ingredients, but the wrong product positioning. pop.in has simple rules: 1. Pick a topic (we give you category suggestions - #debate, #workshop, #dish, or #gather) 2. Set a time (anywhere from 5 min to an hour) 3. Spread the word. You can share to Twitter, iMessage, FB, etc. but as people follow you, they receive alerts about pop.ins you host and join 4. You need at least 3 people to "want in" in order for your pop.in to open. We are trying to avoid empty rooms or 1-1 FaceTime. If it didn't work out, you can always try again later 5. While in pop.in, anyone can join on video, but they don't have to. They can use just audio, text, or images. People can always see "who's here" and follow each other 6. If a pop.in successfully opens, its name and attendees are in the "ended" browse tab, but the pop.in itself isn't recorded. The experience is geared around people being comfortable feeling open and even vulnerable (we also have a "ground rules" feature that allows the host to make basic tenets visible front and center) We believe passionately that especially in today's polarized environment, more human real-time connection is badly needed. Our perspective is that getting multiple people who happen to share an interest together even when they don't know each other can create real magic. We also heard from many activists, people of color, LGBT community members, veterans and others that they feel they have to present a partial version of themselves on social media. Solutions like Houseparty and Google Hangout do an amazing job connecting existing friends, whereas pop.in connects you to the community outside of the one you know. It’s the people who share your passions, no matter where they are.
@akruglov Looks interesting, Alex! Are Android and web versions on the way?
@arunsathiya thank you for asking! Yes, our previous product had a web experience, so we have some experience there and it should launch quickly. Reason we initially held web back is that we wanted to nail the most pure experience first. We have already gotten some excellent feedback and will push those app updates shortly. With the web version, we are hoping to make it super streamlined and optimized for mobile/chrome usage. So ideally we should at least have a browser-based Android offering quickly and get users onboard. Are you an Android user? Would love your thoughts.
@akruglov lovely! cannot wait to see the web version being available again, and I am totally game for suggesting things on Android. :)
@arunsathiya that would be huge. Thank you!
@akruglov Anytime! Feel free to reach out for feedback on your Android roadmap. I am at arun@sathiya.me.
This feels like a Houseparty for polls. Interesting concept, in part because it "breaks the ice" to give participants something to talk about. @akruglov, do you see pop.in more of a communication platform or a game? Or is it unfair to categorize it this way?
@rrhoover You zero in on the "debate" category where people can get into whether Superman would defeat The Hulk, which is a cool use case when you are bored and want to engage with other humans rather than just post asynchronously. It's definitely one of the easy entry points - just yesterday "jess" ( @jessica_nam_kim ) popped in to ask what she should make for dinner and got a full tutorial from "MrJim," an experienced home chef she'd never met. But we also think a lot about people who want to find the like-minded and gather around a common theme - think about the LGBTQ community, parents who homeschool their kids, fans of a college football team, you name it. We definitely think of ourselves as a platform, though there are some characteristics (such as needing to get at least 3 people for your pop.in to start) that borrow from gaming. As you start popping in more, you start to follow people with whom you have common interests and discovering pop.in's from those you've never met. Unlike Houseparty, we are focusing more on people you don't necessarily already know. Just like you have a different group of people you are "friends" with on FB vs. who you follow on Twitter. That's why tools like "ground rules" are important - you want civility that makes sense for each pop.in's theme.
@rrhoover Great question -- Many of the folks who signed up for our beta product are heavy users of MeetUp. It was interesting to learn from them about the common problems that come from trying to synchronously coordinate around a theme or topic -- *especially* with people who are not phonebook or facebook friends. But when you're able to achieve this, it can be an awesome experience. That's something we're trying to achieve for users of pop.in.
Alex! Cool concept. Are the closed pop.ins archived for people to read afterwards?
@caivka the intent of “ended” pop.ins is to show the topics discussed and who was in them. But we very intentionally don’t record the conversations so that people can feel vulnerable and be themselves inside the pop.in It’s kind of like being at a themed dinner party where the host was thoughtful about getting people together into the same stuff. But the magic of the moment isn’t the same when recorded later. One feature we are exploring is “on the record” that lets people record the pop.in But when it happens, key to make sure others know they are on the record so they have the option to opt out Download the app and follow some folks who share your interests @caivka
This looks fun! Excited to try it out.
@fishstix312 thanks. Looking forward to popping in with you! Will you go with “fishstix312” or get an early adopter handle like “bubba?”
Congrats @akruglov and team on building a thoughtful product to support constructive and positive dialog! Excited to support you in this effort.
@malaparte Thank you, Andrei. Means a lot. Nice to see the positive feedback
@malaparte Andrei thank you so much for your support and guidance throughout this adventure of ours!