Social media was initially sold to consumers as a new breed of technology that would improve communication between friends, family, and others. However, with confidence eroding in platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter over the last few years, perhaps consumers should look elsewhere for technology solutions that keep them in contact with those in their social spheres.
Potluck is not a social media company. It is, however, a technology company designed to help users in social settings. Forged with the purpose of making memories and meaningful connections through technology, Potluck announced the launch of its website on October 12, 2021.
Co-founder of Potluck Justin Gray says that he came up with the idea after starting a supper club. Justin’s supper club hosts monthly banquets. The format invites guests who participate in these potluck-style dinners to bring a dish from a different cookbook each month. Justin and his wife have been doing this for over a decade. At the time of the club’s inception, the couple was living in Brooklyn, and wanted to put on an event that gave their friends an excuse to visit.
Of course, dinner with good friends is always a worthy endeavor. However, coordinating these dinners can be a problem.
“Having to organize ‘Who’s doing which recipe?’ and ‘Who’s bringing what?’ was always a pain in the butt,” Justin recalls. “And I said… ‘There’s got to be a better way.’”
So, faced with the need to orchestrate these dinners, Justin turned to technology for help. In the initial stages of his search, Justin looked at the market for event planning apps—but didn’t love what he saw. Among their many flaws, these apps had wonky functionality, and invasive ads bombarded the user.
After looking at the market, Justin remembers thinking, “And I said, you know, I think we could build something for ourselves better than this. The more that we worked on [it] and the more we talked to people about it, the more positive response we started getting. And we were like, ‘Oh, maybe this is the thing!’”
The platform Justin created allows guests to chat securely with one another, gives subscribers an unlimited number of guests for an event, and enables them to take photos and share images.
Potluck initially launched its MVP in 2019. When COVID-19 hit the U.S., the company had to scale back its marketing efforts. Now, with many consumers vaccinated, Potluck will be re-entering the market.
Justin is a non-technical co-founder, and the skills he brings to Potluck are business development and professional marketing. One of the people with whom Justin shared the idea of Potluck is company co-founder Michael Strobel. Justin was chatting with Strobel about the idea. Michael expressed interest in the company and offered his technical expertise.
Justin recalls, “And… he was asking me about the idea. He said, ‘Man, I got to tell you, this sounds pretty awesome! You’re looking for help. I might want to come on board and help you out with this,’ and I said, ‘Absolutely!’”
Subscriptions to Potluck all offer the same suite of services, with no tiered plan of different functionalities. The price for a subscription to the service is $4.99 per month. Subscribers may opt for Potluck’s annual, cost-saving billing option of $39.99.
“We decided to go one flat rate for everybody, unlimited everything,” Justin explains. “We wanted to avoid overcomplicating it. We basically wanted to provide all of our users with all of the functionality possible, for the best experience possible. So we went with that one either monthly or annual.” Justin adds that only the host has to pay for Potluck use, and guests don’t have to pay anything to use the host’s Potluck platform.
In creating Potluck, Justin wanted to create a completely different event planning and social media experience. Being an advocate of consumer privacy and empowerment, he boasts that Potluck users don’t have to worry about having their data given to third-party entities. They also don’t have to download anything or worry about ads when using Potluck. Obviously, these practices are worlds apart from the practices of most social media platforms.
With regard to Potluck’s divergence from other event planning apps, readers should note that Potluck is specifically meant to be used for smaller, more intimate get-togethers. According to a company press release, “Every element of the platform is designed to serve one truth: that relationships are not built on connecting individuals and simplifying communication, but by bringing connected individuals together and simplifying shared experiences.” In the spirit of this, Potluck users can be assigned different responsibilities as the event dictates. This gives Potluck a customizable quality that means it can be used for dinner parties, sports events, or even small work-related functions.
Justin wants users to treat Potluck like they would a virtual photo album through the “Moments” private calendar. Likening this to a private version of Instagram, Justin wants readers of Launch Engine to know that the different features Potluck is working on will keep their privacy and comfort in mind.
“We’ve already got a running list of all the different ideas…” he says. “We go by one motto, which is, ‘Is this functionality going to make the user experience more valuable for our members? Yes or no?’ We don’t really have to make decisions based on like, ‘Well, can we put an ad here? Or how do we generate revenue from this?’ Since we don’t have to worry about that, it makes it a lot easier for us to stay focused on what our users want.’”