Natalia Vodianova © Getty
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New special kind of social media platform Locals.org welcomed its users to meet the celebrity founders including Russian supermodel and philanthropist Natalia Vodianova, Timon Afinsky, Eugene Nevgen and Sergey Gonchar to the newly launched Joshua’s Tavern at swanky Londoner Hotel in Leicester Square.

Founders of the Locasl.org (L-R)Timon Afinsky, Sergey Gonchar, Natalia Vodianova, Eugene Nevgen
Founders of the Locasl.org (L-R)Timon Afinsky, Sergey Gonchar, Natalia Vodianova, Eugene Nevgen © Getty

Practicing what they preach, the Locals.org is revolutionising how we make friends – in real life. The platform combats the big social challenge of connecting in a digital world and shows how technology can have a positive, measurable impact on people’s lives. It’s based on creating unique experiences for people sharing same passion and interests – whatever it might be. Underpinned by the notion of ‘giving back’ to the community, each experience also encourages a charitable donation to the charity picked by the host of chosen experience. And you could just be the next one.

Ikon London Magazine spoke to the founders of Local.s org about their vision and their passion. Co-founder Natalia Vodianova was in good spirits as she declared it was a first time all founder of Locals.org have come together to host an event. “We have been building the community for the last 18 months. Mostly during Covid, which was an interesting experience.”

Despite being a new kid on the block, the social platform is already linking people together and helping charities. Vodianova continued: “Our uses host 60 experiences a week. Our mission is to use all online tools and to get people meet in person and outside. It’s a place for people to get connected and bond over things they like.”

Just an example of experiences you can join is a 50-people hike in Hampstead Heath with Natalia Vodianova herself. Other guests we spoke to were hosting picnics, afternoon teas, and cigar ‘tasting’ experiences.

Founder-philanthropist continued. “This platform is important beyond pandemic. With Metaverse coming up, every brand wants to take us online. I’m not against that but I believe in choice. At Locals.org, we give people easy tools to get together and support the charity of their choice.” A message was echoed by another co-founder Timon Afinsky who believes that the timing for Locals is right: “The timing is good. I don’t want to live in virtual reality but in real world.”

The business is a joint venture between to long-standing business duos Natalia Vodianova – Timon Afinsky and Eugene Nevgen – Sergey Gonchar. According to Afinsky, they met Eugene and Sergey when they invested in one of their star-ups. “We loved the team spirit. It’s like a family. There is no tension or toxic culture like is some other startups. We always thought how great it would be to do something together. When [Eugene and Sergey] started this project with philanthropic vision, we decided to join. We’ve met so many people through locals.

How exactly can you meet people through Locals.org? Natalia explains: “Today, people work Monday to Friday, including me. Come weekend, and there is, say, an exhibition I want to attend. I ask my kinds to go with me and they are all busy. Then, I just go to Locals.org and find people to go with me. It’s the same for people who don’t have their own ideas for example. You haven’t planned anything and your friends are busy – say your best friend got married for example and you are left behind. On Locals.org you will always find incredible experiences.”

At the moment, the platform is fully funded by its four founders and is not generating income. “The founders believe in this project and are very passionate about it.” said one of Locals Angelina Lucenko  Following passion and promoting charity work is not new for Natalia. “I’ve been doing charity for the last 18 years It’s been bigger part of my life than modelling. I always use my position to channel it. We were so lucky to change peoples perception of people with special needs in my country.” Natalia’s Naked Hearts Foundation is helping to build new playgrounds in Russia and raising money to help families with children with disabilities and special needs.

She continued, “As investor, I always focus on mission-driven business. It’s been part of my life and people who know me, they know that it’s just what I do.”

Speaking of families, Natalia will be celebrating her Christmas surrounded by her husband and children. “We wanted to go to Marrakesh for Christmas but everything got shut down. We will probably celebrate in a country side in front of the fire.”

The app is free to download and is currently only available on iOs.

 

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Editor in Chief of Ikon London Magazine, journalist, film producer and founder of The DAFTA Film Awards (The DAFTAs).