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New app shows users what’s ‘happinin’

26 February 2014 By Thomas Martinson, Staff Writer No Comments

When Towson alum Tyler Kelly realized sites like Yelp and Foursquare couldn’t provide up-to-date reviews of the ever-changing night scene, he knew he had to come up with a solution.

“Bars and nightclubs can be very finicky,” Kelly said. “A bar that is great on a Friday can suck on a Saturday. If you go to Yelp or Foursquare, you will read a review about a person who had a great time, but when you go, nobody is there.”

That’s why he created the phone app Happinin!, which will launch March 15.

Happinin! provides up-to-the-minute video clips that users can upload while at bars or clubs. It will also function as a social media platform and distribute coupons for nightlife in the vicinity.

Kelly said what makes Happinin! different from other review hubs is that it provides new and current video footage of what is going on in a particular bar or nightclub of the user’s interest.

“We are giving people that direct line of sight so there is nothing lost in the translation,” Kelly said. “We are allowing people to make the most educated decision they can because nothing beats a video. People want to hear and see things, and that is what we want to present to our users.”

Kelly hopes the strongest impact Happinin! will have on its users is its transparency.

“There are many times when you go out and just waste your time and money trying to find a place to have a good time with your friends after a long day, but our app will give this [visual representation] to the user’s disposal so they do not waste any time when they now have the ability not to,” Kelly said.

There will be two versions of this app, the first allows users to view the footage of what is going on in the establishments, and the second allows team members and affiliated business owners to upload the content.

Happinin! will feature resturants, bars and clubs throughout Baltimore County, including Towson, Fell’s Point, Canton, Federal Hill, Power Plant Live! and Homewood.

Co-creator and Happinin! business partner Michael Cianos said he not only wants the content on the app to be constantly fresh, but become very interactive to the users.

“The app has location software that will pinpoint you in a specific bar or neighborhood. In order to provide an future incentive for people who want to upload videos we are going to have late night eatery coupons from establishments around where you upload, that will randomly be assigned to you,” Cianos said. “You may upload one video and not get a coupon, but if you upload three videos in one night, the chances are you’ll get one.”

Not only will the incentives keep the content fresh, but it will also help to increase the user following of the app, Cianos said.

Happinin! plans on reaching out to a larger audience than just the college age crowd.

“We are targeting the 21 to 35 age demographic. There are pockets in this city that are mostly 28 to 35, so we are including them because they often aren’t looking for places that are too crowded. They may not want to wait for a drink and just sit down and chat with friends while having good service. Using this app will make that particularly useful for them,” Cianos said.

Cianos wants to stress that everything on this app is in a real time platform — videos are posted that moment, not a few days before. Also, different bar locations will have their own forum that will serve as a live review platform.

“People can chat about it and post reviews of their experience that night, but the videos will only last until the next one is uploaded,” Cianos said. “Our team members [and eventually users] will start posting videos around 10 p.m. because that is the timeframe when people make their decisions of where to go.”

Cianos said they are looking to hire college kids who frequent the local night life scene to go out, go to maybe three or four more places than they normally would and just upload some content.

Cianos and Kelly turned to software entrepreneur Kyle Eddins to help them develop Happinin!

“This app takes away some of the difficulties that other apps were tying to dive into by putting cameras into bars and it just felt so intrusive and there was a lot of backlash from it,” Eddins said. “We felt the way we are now approaching it allows the user to engage with one another without having big brother looking over them.”

But since this app is new, it’s still a trial experiment.

Eddins said that the first alpha version will solely include viewing and uploading versions and will be a minimum viable product. The creators will then take user feedback to determine the next steps for the app.

In the future, Kelly said they do plan on expanding Happinin! to other locations such as Boston and Miami. But, they started this application in Baltimore for multiple reasons.

“The people who experience this in Baltimore will put that information out there on social media platforms,” Kelly said. “I’ve always liked how things flow out of an organic process, instead of shoving it down people’s throats. But we are allowing people to experience it and then [tell] their friends because they enjoyed the service.”

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