Startup Q&A – U Out Highlights the Night Life Across Boston
If you’re a college student in Boston looking to find a new restaurant or something to do on a night out, it can be a bit of a challenge to just throw a dart and search on Google.
However, the recently launched U Out is giving its users a variety of options to find nightlife fun in Boston. No excessive Google searching required.
U Out’s Founder/Principal Steve Borseti spoke with us about the company and how the app works for both consumers and businesses.
U Out’s “origin story” is a pretty common one amongst entrepreneurs I think. The app and the company overall were born out of a common frustration that we realized was shared by so many consumers that we interviewed.
That is, despite living in an incredible city with a booming restaurant, bar and nightlife environment, it was really hard to find fun things happening at those places in real time…in one place.
We asked so many people 21 and older in the Boston area…and other cities as well…this question:
“If you were going out in the Boston area tonight and you wanted to find Live Music, Happy Hours, places with a DJ, a Trivia Night….or if you wanted to see if a place was serving an incredible food special or possibly doing a vodka or wine tasting, how would you quickly and easily find it?”
Most times, people think they know and start to answer. Many suggest simply Googling, but then quickly realize that will only show you names of places that you will need to drill into websites to find whether those things are happening. Some suggest social media, but then realize that will be difficult if not impossible to sort through…and will likely be limited to finding fun stuff at places they are “following.”
Within about 20 seconds, almost everyone pauses and says, “Yeah, you’re right, it isn’t easy…my friends and I actually talk about this all the time.”
Welcome to U Out.
U Out solves huge frustrations for 2 groups that desperately need our platform:
We have created a free (available on the App Store and Google Play store), simple, and powerful mobile app that allows consumers to quickly and easily search for dynamic events and offers, sorting by:
The type of fun they seek (Live music, trivia, DJ, Brunch etc.)
The date they are going out
The location (by city)
By business name or keyword search (see if a band you love is playing or find out if one of your favorite places has something fun going on)
We have created a frictionless, web-based platform where restaurants, bars, and venues can easily post their fun events & offers in seconds to a clean new channel (The U Out mobile app) where people are specifically searching for fun offers and events.
Posts (events, entertainment, or offers) can be added dynamically and go live instantly. In just about every way, creating posts in U Out is faster, classier looking, and way more efficient than spending time trying to get their message seen and heard on social media channels.
And, unlike their email blasts and social efforts, a business’ U Out post will reach a far broader audience than their current customers.
On top of all that, U Out users can invite friends to join them at their favorite establishments. Customers will be promoting the restaurant/bar offers and events to other customers.
The U Out Founders
U Out’s co-founders comprise of 4 Boston area entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds in the advertising agency world, technology, and software. 3 of the 4 have held C-level and ownership roles in their careers. Jay Bolton, Brian Peluso, Sam Borseti, and I (Steve Borseti) are the co-founders and primary investors.
CB: What is the ultimate goal of U Out?
SB: Well, it’s an overused phrase, but the ultimate goal of U Out is to completely disrupt the way restaurants, bars, and venues promote their events and offers to consumers, thereby bringing more customers to their businesses on the nights they need them most.
It’s a brash statement, but we believe we’ve built a new channel that will make U Out to restaurant and nightlife promotion what Uber and Lyft have become to transportation.
We expect U Out to become a nationally recognized brand in the restaurant and nightlife space since respected influencers in our space are calling U Out “the app that finally got it right for these two groups.”
CB: Explain what U Out does. If it’s a particular software/platform/service, how does it work? Any use case that stands out to you?
SB: Think I probably already explained how it works for consumers and businesses above. But it is the use cases that really grab your attention. We hear stories regularly from consumers about how they:
“Didn’t realize there was so much live music in Boston on a nightly basis.”
“Pick up their phone and scan U Out every day even if they had no plans…because they’re afraid they might miss something fun.”
“Used to have 3 different apps and websites on their phone, but now just need U Out because it does it all for them.”
We’ve been fortunate to hear wonderful compliments from restaurants and bars that “U Out is the smartest app they have seen presented to them.”
CB: How big is the team? Looking to hire any particular position in the upcoming months?
SB: Well at this point, it is the U Out founding team of four plus a growing legion of part-time U Out Concierges that are growing the business with both consumers and businesses.
We always want to talk to more potential U Out Concierges (people that love to rally their friends to new places and go out at least 2 x per week for drinks, dinner etc.). They can reach us at email@example.com. We’re always happy to chat with those folks.
As for our broader plans for expansion, U Out is currently seeking executive-level talent with experience growing subscription-based businesses as well as a strong understanding of consumer behavior related to restaurants and nightlife.
CB: Has your company participated in any trade shows/meetup events in the Boston area? What about events outside of Boston?
SB: U Out has participated in a variety of media opportunities and has addressed various groups in/around Boston. We talk with consumers and key Boston-area restaurant groups every day. Our team of U Out Concierges is in constant contact with consumers to get feedback on the U Out UI, usefulness, and functionality.
CB: Is the company bootstrapped or seeking investments?
SB: The company to date is completely bootstrapped by the team of founders, but actively seeking investors to scale and further develop the platform. Investment inquiries can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, investors can find the full U Out story and our business model at http://uout.co.
CB: I’m always interested in how a startup came up with its name. How did U Out get its name?
SB: Pretty simple. Sam Borseti was a Suffolk University student living in the North End. He would frequently find himself out a bar or restaurant texting friends to find out where they were and what they were doing that night. The common beginning of the text string was, “You out?” As in, are you out and up for getting together?
“You Out” became U Out.
Part of our mantra is that we want to “Make it easy and fun to get U Out with friends and family at all the great places around Boston.”
CB: Any other additional comments you’d like to make?
SB: We know U Out is in a crowded space. We regularly hear, “Oh, you’re like this other restaurant or nightlife app I’ve seen.”
The reality is that there really isn’t, nor has there ever been an app quite like U Out. We understand though. People feel the need to associate or categorize. That is until they download U Out. Then, the reaction is very different. We then get comments like, “wow, I cannot believe I didn’t think of this.” Or, “are you sure there isn’t another app like this already?” (There isn’t!) In both cases, we take it as a compliment.
To the restaurant and bar owners that tell us, “We see so many people pitching us apps,” and we say, “Please don’t blame us for past failed premises and business models.”
There are and have been lots of them…and some of them actually got funding for app concepts that that countless restaurants and bars told us were awful ideas. So, we agree with agree with those business owners. There have been some really bad ones. But, we built U Out with them in mind, so we hope they at least give us a chance.
We have a Rewards Program we plan to roll out in early 2018 that will make both the consumers and businesses we serve want to hug us. Well, we probably will pass on the hugs in this atmosphere. But, we do think people will pretty excited about it. It will be fun and easy and takes the responsibility of rewards away from the businesses.
Images via U Out.