London population has been increasing constantly in the latest years. This comes with positive aspects such as economic development, but some secondary effects join as well such as crowdedness that affects mental wellbeing of Londoners.
From our research, some of interviewees confirmed our assumption that in the beginning it is hard to meet new people. One of them explained more clearly, “Despite living in very close proximity, without interaction there is no connection. When we have made friends in London, it is always through existing friends, so in order to make friends in the local area, you tend to need to already have some. Getting started can be difficult.” London might be a bunch of strangers.
A BIG City crowded with lonely people. Almost 9 million people in London. And about 90% of Londoners experience loneliness. The government spends billions of pounds due to mental health issues. It is an emerging issue we should tackle.
Coolture is an inclusive experience maker platform that empowers Londoners to connect with people better through small group meetings in nature that will improve their long-term wellbeing. This solution matches people with similar interests and provide toolkits and recommendations of ice-breaker activities and artful noticing experiences of nature.
One of our personas, Laura lives by her own and feels anxious. She wants to have meaningful relationship with a few people in London. She was thinking to join a Meetup event for photography, but.... There were too many people and she was not sure about connecting with them that better. Awkwardness, confusion: “where to start?”, lack of ideas, lack of compatibility, groups with too many people, discomfort of taking initiative and experience shame, and no inclusion; these are some of the challenges people experience while creating new connections. So we answered them all.
On the platform, Laura registers her interests, personality and place at first. This platform recommends activities based on them. After she selects a type of activities, she matches other people who have similar interests. Then they choose date and time checking weather. Finally they would do a nature trail event this Sunday. The group they form provides a toolkit and local information.
The toolkit is delivered as a website and a printable foldable PDF to bring easily. It includes ice-breaker ideas to encourage participants to get more intimate, activity ideas updated monthly seasonally and other information for every participant to enjoy activities easily and safely.
As marketing strategy and sales channel, we involve public sectors, local businesses and customers themselves. Regarding the market potentiality, as software technology makes easier to create groups, manage meetings, tickets, and an event effortlessly with a few clicks, the events industry size was valued at $1,135.4 billion in 2019 but is expected to reach $1,552.9 billion by 2028. Coolture targets locality and offline base to make difference from other giant services as well as specific purposes - nature prescriptions.
We had a converstaion with Jennifer Springham, who is a mental health specialist at Royal College of Art, and ask her the impact of our solution. We also tested how the toolkit works in Hamstead Heath, a park in London.
Science research supports the fact that social engagement is one of the most important elements in wellbeing. And that is not enough to interact with other people, but humans need to engage and connect with others in order to feel less lonely. We want to change the story from “Living in London it just feels like you are surrounded by thousands of strangers.” to “I found my best friends in London and I feel supported and connected with others better in a nature environment.”