Whether you are in search of Columbus’ best brunches, top boutiques, great dive bars or recommended spots for family fun, a new app is putting authentic, user-driven suggestions right at your fingertips.
“Shuffle is a platform where you can create and discover Playlists of where to go and what to do,” says CEO Jacqueline Rinehardt.
She says to think Spotify, but for locations. Free to use, individuals can create their own lists of top spots or places they want to try, and look for the recommendations of others.
It’s users’ choice for the length of the playlist, but Rinehardt says five to nine is the sweet spot. In addition to saving their own lists, individuals can favorite other users’ Playlists that pique their interest or follow that user to see all their recommendations.
Shuffle differentiates itself against other recommendation platforms by forgoing algorithms and pay-to-play, and relying on authentic, user-generated content.
Playlists are gravitating towards food, drink and fun, but, “We are really leaving it up to the users to curate,” Rinehardt says.
Shuffle appeals to a largely Millennial audience of both men and women. It’s also attracting residents and visitors alike.
“I think there’s a large amount of people that are looking for things to do right in their backyard and discover those new favorite places to frequent,” says Rinehardt.
Favorites are an opinionated matter so she also fully expects friendly disagreements over the best spots to drive content creation on the app.
It was a winding path of pivots that got Shuffle to its late November launch.
Rinehardt started her first business in 2014, an online flower shop offering customized bouquets. Balancing a full-time job in insurance, she ran the business for over a year and a half before her career took her in a new direction.
Rinehardt got a dose of the Silicon Valley startup ecosystem through a remote position with Redwood City-based Open Gov. When the time came to move to California for the position or stay in Columbus, a love for the city and its cost of living kept her here.
The early beginnings of what would become Shuffle were next. The initial goal was to create a platform to discover what was happening in real-time around an individual based on their location, from happy hours to daily deals and sales. Prototype in hand, Rinehardt began her pitch for a CTO to build out the app which put her in touch with LOUD Capital and Taivara Founder & CEO Brooke Paul.
Taivara was working on a similar project in Connects Columbus so Rinehardt came on board to merge the ideas.
“All of a sudden right at my fingertips I had all of resource I ever wanted, and experts at that,” Rinehardt says.
Connects Columbus launched in November of 2017 as a platform to find discounts at local businesses and discover what was happening now. Three months in it became apparent the platform wasn’t gaining traction and it was time to reevaluate.
“I did some insight into what was working and what people liked about what we were doing and found that there was more of a gap in the market for personal recommendations and authentic experiences,” Rinehardt says.
Offerings related to that mindset had performed well for Connects Columbus – things like coordinated bar crawls and list-based blog posts. There was always a quest to figure out where to go and what to do. Coupled with Taivara’s previous experience working on projects like the Columbus Coffee Trail and the Short North Arts District Art Trail, the vision for Shuffle emerged.
The app will continue to add new features like search, edit and delete Playlists and more over the next several weeks. Rinehardt welcomes feedback on Shuffle’s MVP and is interested in what else users would like to see.
Since it is free for users, the app will make money by partnering with brands and merchants to curate experiences around their brands. Take the Short North Arts Trail. Shuffle is working with the neighborhood to create mini, more targeted experiences around the main trail that will appeal to different demographics.
As the conversations continue around the merchant side of the platform, Rinehardt is also looking to grow the brand outside of Columbus. She’s encouraging users and influencers to add Playlists for places they have traveled or visited. Rinehardt sees the idea applicable to major cities across the U.S. and aims for Shuffle to be the go-to for trip planning.
To learn more or download the app on Android or iOS, visit shuffleapp.io.