Photo of Kareem on the left and Roze on the right, founders of 4RL
Kareem (left) and Roze (right) at Union Market, Washington D.C.

Our Story

Have you ever stopped to really observe what happens when people meet? In a matter of seconds, our brains fire millions of synapses. Whether it's reconnecting with an old friend, recognizing a familiar face in your daily routine, or meeting someone new, something special happens.

We’re betting on this magic — the magic of meaningful in-person connections, the communities where they occur, and the experiences that surround them.

So, what exactly is 4RL? Rather than confining it to a single definition, we call it the “community toolkit.” We want you to use its tools to create the neighborhood vibe you wish to be part of — we’re merely stewards here to help. Our vision is of thriving third places — your local cafes, libraries, bars, malls, parks, etc. — and our goal is to open new pathways to connection in these places.

Why do we care? Because we know how it feels to be lonely in a city full of people and how hard it can be to put yourself out there. For Kareem, the vision for 4RL began in Okinawa, Japan where he fell in love with the culture of a deeply connected community of islanders who regularly celebrated ancient traditions and curated spaces for neighborhoods to come together. After returning to DC, Kareem constantly sought this sense of community but rarely found it. Becoming deeply dissatisfied with using dating and networking apps to try to meet new people, Kareem became determined to create an alternative for those who live for authentic human connections. For Roze, the frustration stemmed from how technology was being used to divide and isolate people. As an immigrant, Roze experienced firsthand the power of community building to foster a sense of belonging, knowing how much it helped them. So, they started hacking together prototypes of how tech could facilitate this.

When the two of us met, we realized that together we had a unique opportunity to solve a problem we both felt so passionately about. While we are starting in DC, we know that what we’re building will create the blueprint for community transformation everywhere.

― Kareem & Roze