South Charlotte

Newcomer reaches out using social media

We live in the days of World Wide Web intimacy - where everyone you've ever known has secondhand knowledge of your cats' eccentricities, your emotions of the moment and your inside jokes with friends.

So why is it hard to imagine bringing a home-cooked meal to someone who just moved in, or asking for an egg or cup of flour when you're halfway through a recipe and realize you've run out?

Enter www. Cup of Sugr .com (no "a" in sugar), the brainchild of SouthEnd resident Tim Curran, 26.

Curran, a Web designer, got the idea when he relocated from Cleveland to Charlotte last year.

"I didn't know anybody or ... the fun things to do, even where to go for restaurants," said Curran.

So he did some brainstorming and programming. After a few months, he had something to show.

The website is free and rife with ways for neighbors and communities to connect at the extremely local level.

On the site, you can buy and sell items, send invitations to an event or borrow something, be it a DVD, tool, game controller or ingredient. You can also ask for and supply recommendations for restaurants, nightlife and other fun activities in your community.

Not only can you take your Web business to the local level, but you could make a few friends in the process.

"I thought it would be a ... great way to get to know the community, involve my community, engage the numbers," said Curran.

Setting up a community is easy. Just visit www. Cup of Sugr .com , and fill out the short form.

People must have or create a community ID, which then is approved by Curran. (This keeps several people from creating different IDs for the same community.)

You can be a part of several communities, as well, but you must have each community ID to access them.

If you're hosting an event for your immediate neighbors, you could make that available to only a small community, like your cul-de-sac. But if you're selling a car, you could extend the posted ad to include the other communities you're part of, such as your neighborhood or homeowners association. The process takes less than two minutes, said Curran.

Representatives from Johnson C. Smith University have said they want to use Curran's for their dorms, and a handful of communities and apartment complexes, including Circle at Southend where Curran lives, are setting it up.

Curran recently met with the SouthEnd Neighborhood Association, which plans to roll out its own CupofSugr community in January.

Curran has also developed a site called www. webletes .com , a social media platform for high school athletes to create profiles and upload highlight videos and statistics, to help gain exposure to college coaches during the recruiting process.

In less than a year, about 4,500 athletes nationwide and several colleges already are using it.

The site is free for users, and eventually Curran would like a hyper-local, daily-deal sponsorship element. Mom-and-pop shops could advertise to just the people around the corner.

"There are so many (people on) social media right now ... and what they're all trying to do is capture so many eyeballs nationwide and connect with people from high school, college and middle school," said Curran. "People are forgetting about their next-door neighbor or someone down the hall who would benefit from something so much more than someone from seventh grade."