Thursday, November 15, 2012
Dallas proves perfect test market for Access the Night nightlife app prototype
The free app pushes tailored deals and specials notifications from your favorite restaurants and bars.
UNIVERSITY PARK College students are always trying to figure out what the next big invention or business plan will be. It seems like everyone has come up with that one idea that they think is genius, but no one ever really acts on it.
In February 2011, three 22-year-old college students decided to finally act on their great idea. It was called “Access the Night,” and its goal was to change the way bars and restaurants communicated with their customers.
Sam Kessler, the founder and CEO, originally ran a website online to help his friends and fellow students at the University of Colorado find great deals at local bars and restaurants. Once the website began picking up popularity, Kessler decided to team up with Kevin King, an environmental studies major, to figure out a way they could advance the website.
Once they graduated, Kessler, King, and Andrew Tuffin, an international studies major from the University of Kansas, decided to make the website into an application for iPhones. “We created an app we wish we had ourselves in college,” said King. “It’s a direct line of communication between students and their favorite places to party.”
“Access the Night” simply allows bars and restaurants to push information to a specific subsector of people who have interest in them. This allows clients to stay up to date on every deal at their favorite places to go out. The services, venues, and products on the application update every five minutes to ensure nothing is overdue or expired. Clients can find bars and places to hang out based on their interests, age, and Facebook.
Chase Wildes, a 21-year-old SMU senior economics and finance major, has been using the application since June and loves it. “It’s perfect for SMU because of the students’ lifestyle here,” Wildes said. “Plus, it saves me a lot of money with the drink deals and specials.”
In just three months since the launch, the application already has more than 2,000 users and 40 bars and restaurants in the Dallas area. Tuffin, the chief operating officer, views SMU students as the perfect market to target. “We’re fresh out of college so we understand what college students want and look for,” Tuffin said. “And we developed the best platform for it.”
Fueled, a company based in New York, helped with the design, development, and functionality of the application. Kessler wanted to make sure it was simple to use but effective.
“Nightlife websites are so poorly run and constructed,” he said. “We just really wanted to pull everything together for our users and make it convenient and easy to find.”
Although it is using very unconventional and grassroots marketing, “Access the Night” hopes to expand. For example, next month the application is expected to start in Austin and San Marcos. “We want to come up with a template here in Dallas that we can pick up and move to other cities,” Kessler said. “Then we can hire a team, set up an infrastructure, and put them in place to go out and do the same thing were doing here.”
They started in Dallas because both Kessler and Tuffin attended Dallas Jesuit High School. At first, their parents were skeptical of the idea for their business, but the success of the application has convinced their families to endorse it.
“They just thought it was an idea we were kicking around,” explains Tuffin. “But now that we have come this far, it’s a full scale business.”
The application has five tabs: the map, the loop, my favorites, my deals, and account settings.
“I like how it allows people to pick their favorite places and only get information from them,” Virginia Boswell, a 21-year old junior history and fashion major at SMU, said. “You can also request a bar or restaurant via email if it’s not on the app already.”
The application is available at the iTunes store for free. You can also follow “Access the Night” on Twitter, Facebook, and its own company website. Kessler, Tuffin, and King are always working to improve and expand their business. “Students and young professionals are the perfect target market for us,” Kessler explained. “As you know, any good idea or happening spreads like wildfire on a college campus.”
Pegasus News Content partner - The Daily Campus