When Evite Is Too Formal: Go Tribal Targets Casual Planning

When you have a group of friends that likes to get together, the planning tools — long email threads, calling people individually, SMS or Foursquare when you’re already at a location — aren’t ideal. Sure, if you’re really on top of things you could create a Facebook event or send an Evite, or even do something with the relatively fuzzy Plancast, but those services ask you to propose an activity at a place in the future. Go Tribal, a new service launching today, aims to be more casual. Users input their upcoming availability (not just by figuring out when their calendar has holes, but also by explicitly stating they are “down to hang out”). Then the system identifies overlaps within a group of friends and helps “rally” them and negotiate a semblance of a plan.

I am fully on board with this idea — I was on a 66-message dinner party email thread just this week — but I’m not sure how Go Tribal can implement it without requiring a ton of work on the part of its users. Something like this might be much easier to bring to critical mass if it were fully integrated (or a product of) a site like Facebook, MySpace or even Google (s GOOG) that already has a social graph and good points of integration for availability through instant messaging and calendars. CEO Shruti Challa told us in an interview that Go Tribal doesn’t require all participants to be members of its site, and that it has worked to make indicating availability as simple as choosing a green, red or yellow dot.

Challa, who along with her three co-founders all graduated from Stanford last spring, is setting out to attract users to Go Tribal by marketing it as a planning tool for young women. She thinks women crave more collaboratively planned social interaction. “The big epiphany was when it comes to social coordination, it’s not about structured time,” she said. “Even something as simple as saying ‘we’re getting coffee’ is too formal.” I’m not sure about the women-specific angle — after all there were men on that 66-message email thread, too — but at least Go Tribal isn’t bubblegum pink with flowers and bows.

Go Tribal is giving accounts to the first 10,000 people who sign up starting today. It doesn’t have a mobile version yet but that’s coming soon. It is currently funded by friends and family and advised by folks like Bijan Marashi of Xoopit, Ross Mayfield of Socialtext and Adam Rifkin of Renkoo (which tried to do a similar Evite alternative a few years ago but has since closed).

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