Meetup is a great web service that allows average folks like you me to schedule a meeting, invite friends, and share comments. It’s essentially an enhanced e-vite, but the company has put some effort into develop communities of like-minded enthusiasts. They’ve got thousands of groups listed.
I belong to, and attend, the New York High Tech Meetup. This group was organized by the founder of Meetup, Scott Heiferman. It’s one of the larger, more dynamic groups on Meetup. I went to their monthly meeting which was held last night at the new IAC Building, a fantastic building designed by Frank Gehry. Each meeting includes 6-8 entrepreneurs making presentations about their startups. There are 6000 people in the New York High Tech Meetup group and about 400 were there last night. More would have been there if there was more space. This meetup always fills up quickly (online registration limits attendance). Used to be free, now they charge $10 to cut down on no-shows.
Anyway, Meetup has been successful in creating a tight business community that any B2B media company would be happy to have, but because they are a web services company they apparently don’t know how to leverage or monetize it. I don’t know how they make money, other than traffic on their site. The people I talk to at these meeting always discuss potential value added options for these events–things they would be willing to pay for. These ideas go nowhere because the event is essentially a voluntary effort. Business marketers should take a look at Meetup and see how this model can be adapted to a serious B2B effort.