Company Offers Group Buying for Socialites

Think the group buying industry is too crowded for your startup to survive? Not so. 

Just because Andrew Mason and Groupon suck most of the air out of the space doesn't mean the market is cornered.

Another group buying upstart has splashed onto the Chicago scene, but this one has nothing to do with discounted manicures or restaurant deals.

CitySwarm is aimed directly at the city's social butterflies.

The company launched in February as a means to provide city scenesters with an affordable outlet for exploring the city and meeting new people.

CitySwarm rents out various spots in Chicago for its get-togethers and offers packages to its customer base who signed up for the email alerts. Ticket-buyers are encouraged to attend by themselves or with a group, but CitySwarm founder Lindsay Saewitz says the most important thing is that they be ready to mix and mingle.

"Our events are different from the usual bar nights or drink packages," Saewitz says. "We always want to include a social aspect."

Cityswarm events can take place at a single location for a few hours or can be day- or evening-long trips involving more than one spot. And the fact that an entire group is buying the package, means it's typically cheaper than what you'd spend individually.

The company is taking advantage of the warmer weather with several outdoor outings, including an upcoming "Kayak and Kick It" trip this month. The package includes kayak gear, a two-hour guided riverfront tour and a waived cover fee, plus reserved patio space at Joe's Bar on Weed Street later that night for $56.

"We're trying to do things that you've maybe always wanted to do in Chicago but never had the time to plan," Saewitz says.

A cheaper, more leisurely option is CitySwarm's Patio Series, featuring events at some of the city's best outdoor patios. An upcoming offering at River North's Citizen Bar is $10 for two featured cocktails, appetizers and reserved seating.

Past CitySwarm events have included Cubs rooftop parties, mixology classes and comedy club nights.

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