Seattle entrepreneur Emily Marshall can speak to the pain of long distance relationships. Her fiancé lives more than 2,000 miles away in Manzanillo, Mexico, which means when they do talk it is usually late at night when both are “tired” and “cranky.” But Marshall thinks she’s got a solution to that problem, a social networking site called SnuggleCloud. (Yeah, guys hate the name, but more on that later).
“SnuggleCloud is Facebook, with privacy, just for couples,” said Marshall, who presented the idea at last week’s First Look Forum event in Seattle. Having been in long distance relationships in the past, I was intrigued with how SnuggleCloud worked and what made it different. (After all, the world certainly doesn’t need yet another social networking site, or does it?)
There are dozens of online dating sites out there and several for those who’ve already agreed to tie the knot. But Marshall notes that there are very few Web properties that cater to the needs of couples who’ve actually committed to one another.
“There’s a giant gap in the middle,” she says. “The odds are if you are in a relationship, you are underserved.”
Essentially, SnuggleCloud creates a private “wall” where couples can exchange notes, news, jokes, videos and an occasional sweet something. The company also has created an alert system, so couples never have to worry about missing a birthday or anniversary again. (Pretty cool idea, which sounds a bit like Seattle’s Thoughtful.co).
Interestingly, SnuggleCloud has been running a test version of the site for military couples at Fort Lewis. They serve as sounding board for the service, a good test market since military families often are separated by thousands of miles for months at a time.
But the company sees opportunity beyond the military, including engineers who spend a portion of their lives overseas or college students who meet that special someone while studying abroad.
SnuggleCloud, which emerged from The Founder Institute in Seattle and took home a top prize at a recent Startup Weekend, plans to make money by creating an online marketplace that connects couples with products they need.
As part of that offering, Marshall said that the company could receive a lead generation fee for large ticket items such as airfare, engagement rings or flowers. It is also toying with sponsored content within the site, say relationship advice or home buying tips.
So, as one audience member remarked at last week’s event, what happens when the long distance relationship fizzles? In other words, who owns the SnuggleCloud?
At this point, Marshall said the plan is to simply take down the wall posts. (Perhaps they can create a secondary site: FrictionCloud).
So, what about the name? Marshall admits that guys typically don’t like the idea of spending time on a site called SnuggleCloud, which, let’s face it, lacks a certain masculinity. But Marshall, who works at the mobile indoor mapping startup Point Inside, doesn’t care.
“We’ve found that the guys go where the gals are, and the gals don’t have a problem with our name,” she says.
The company plans to complete its Web site and mobile app in June, and then target military families for the application.