Community is essential to the human experience. We find it in so many places: family, friends, jobs, and organizations. We even find community in the artists we admire, the missions we support, and the food we enjoy. Having communities allows us to feel as though we are a part of something greater than ourselves.
As a student at a school with 15,000 undergraduates, community is our identity. It plays a crucial role in helping us navigate this vast sea of people who are also figuring out where they fit into the picture. The foundation of community is built upon the integration and interactions of its members. Unfortunately, the pandemic hindered many organizations, clubs, and businesses from forming new relationships and building upon old ones.
The first organization I joined upon arriving at Cornell was a dance team called BreakFree. This year, we experienced firsthand the immense challenge of migrating a community to a virtual world. Furthermore, our unofficial gathering space where people would spontaneously pop in to work on choreography, catch up with members, or nap, was turned into a COVID-19 surveillance testing center. Without these spaces and opportunities to interact, I saw an organization that welcomed me into the college experience become disconnected, at no fault of its own.
I am lucky. As a junior, I’ve had time to establish relationships and join organizations that continue to provide me with a crucial sense of belonging that makes Cornell feel like home. However, many people can’t say the same. First-year students who are still finding their footing face the daunting task of finding community in a pandemic world. My dance team means everything to me, and as much as it hurt to see that family become distant, it hurt more to know that students who are attempting to find any sense of community in the first place are falling upon deaf ears. And, college organizations aren’t the only ones.
Over the past Summer, I worked at a functional gum and mints startup called Neuro. Successful CPG companies such as Neuro are quick to accumulate fans. Still, without an excellent platform to interact with their most dedicated customers, most relationships default to social media and the infamous DM. This is no way to foster a community of ambassadors and advocates for your product or service, so we reimagined it.
We believe that community can be even more powerful. This is a ubiquitous problem that my friend and roommate, Han, was also attempting to solve. While interning at Facebook over the summer, he and Aiden, a product designer, identified a critical pain point: how can we make it easy for organizations and companies to foster community online? That’s why we built pe•ple.
By developing an easily installable, completely customizable, analytical plug-in, we allow anyone to add a community to their website. To top it off, pe•ple is hosted on your website rather than a subdomain, which means that community interactions boost SEO.
We’ve released our first iteration of pe•ple and would love to share it with anyone interested by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org or signing up on our website. Though this is just the beginning of our mission with pe•ple, we hope our work allows organizations and companies alike to harness the power of their community.
P.S. We are featured on Product Hunt, so feel free to check us out there as well!