Compared to when you were a kid, it’s easy to let playing outside slide to the bottom of your priority list as a grown-up – especially if you don’t have anyone to play with. MEC member Hafiz Mitha wants to fix that. See what he’s creating with PlayCity, and how it can help you bring a bit more activity and outdoor fun into your life.
MEC: How would you describe the PlayCity app?
Hafiz: It’s like Tinder meets Trip Advisor, but for physical activity buddies (I know what you’re thinking – not that kind of physical activity). You can use PlayCity to match with people near you that share the same activity interests, skill level and availability. You can also discover locations to go play based on your location and find events for all types of activities.
What problems are you solving with this app?
Today, we are busy being busy. We can have hundreds of online connections, yet stats show that we are lonelier than ever before1. Social media and time online are shifting the way we connect and spend our time. Eighty percent of Canadian adults aren’t getting the recommended physical activity amounts, which has been estimated to cost our economy over $6.8 billion2.
The goal of PlayCity is to make it easy for people to be more active and meet new people in the process. We know that we’re not going to move away from technology, so why not use it to connect people offline? The only time many of us put our phones away is when we’re engaged in an activity with someone else. Ever tried texting and hiking or playing tennis? Yeah, it doesn’t happen.
Where did you get the idea for PlayCity?
When I moved back to Canada after living abroad, I was lonely; I couldn’t find a tennis partner who was at my skill level and was available to play at courts nearby. So I decided to take what dating apps were doing to make it easy for singles looking to meet, but instead focus on people who wanted to make friends based on a shared activity interests. I love what sports and activity do beyond just the physical benefits – they help create community, friendships, confidence and are great for your mental health.
Where can you use it?
Today, our efforts are in Calgary and Vancouver. So far, we’re at roughly 6,500 users with about 70% of the userbase in Calgary.
We’re so excited about the partnership with MEC and the opportunity to scale across Canada. Vancouver is our next city where we’re growing, and we’re ready to expand across this fine nation with your help. The app shows you users and events within a 100km radius, so the more events and users in a city, the more ways people can get active outside.
What are you most proud of with PlayCity?
All the experiences that I’ve been given by working on the app. The entire ride so far has been pretty surreal, from meeting with users who thank us for helping them find friends to play with when they were depressed and in a new city, to the opportunity to meet legendary athletes who join our team.
Partnering with MEC has been an extremely proud moment as well, and so was being invited to do a TEDx talk in Calgary to share our story with the world.
Fast forward 10 years: what’s your dream for PlayCity?
I see PlayCity as a company that connects all people from all walks of life. In 10 years, it would be amazing to be in every city to help streamline physical activity connections, and get more people off their phones to connect in real life and do things that are fun and great for them. Having a non-profit or charitable arm to our company will help to push the mission forward as well.
Any advice for MEC members?
The only advice I’d give to anyone would be to try and make the world a better place. It’s our duty to push things forward and set the bar for the rest of the world. As a country proud of its multiculturalism, let’s help everyone to feel welcome and experience the amazing people and natural beauty that this country has to offer.
Finally, what gear always comes along when you’re heading outside?
My trusty MEC Travel Light Anorak – it’s a pouch that turns into a thin rain jacket – and a water bottle. With those essentials, along with my bike, I feel like I’m ready for anything.
MEC All Out supported PlayCity with funding through Outdoor Nation to spur on the app’s development, and we’re excited to see it start to connect people in cities across the country.