Sam McCaa was in Uptown eating with friends when he saw it: awkward first date in progress.

The guy was taken by the woman, but the woman was clearly not interested in the guy. Maybe even looking for an out.

There must be an easier way to meet people, McCaa and friends said. There were a lot of people at the casual Minneapolis bar/restaurant. Someone might have been a better match.

“The notion just kept sticking in my mind,” McCaa said.

From that, the Mingle@ app was born.

As McCaa pitches it, Mingle@ is a social network focused on helping you meet people virtually and then actually socialize in-person. The app uses the geo location on your phone to show you profiles of other users nearby. Profiles include photos and any details users want to share about their interests, marital status and the kinds of people they’d like to meet. Users can exchange messages and arrange meetups.

The iOS app is free if you want to see profiles of users in your immediate area. It costs $4.99 to get a wider view. Since the app was launched in early 2014, McCaa said, more than 11,500 people have downloaded it.

He’s hoping eventually to launch similar apps with slightly different purposes — Student@ for teens, Network@ for professional networking. They would all be under the umbrella of Here@ Networks, the company he co-founded with developer Steve Anderson.

“We’re really trying to facilitate that in-person introduction,” said McCaa, whose background is in IT staffing.

Mingle online, be social offline.