Ah the feeling of disappointment when you walk into the bar and are greeted by a shoulder-to-shoulder wall of thirsty patrons, or head to your favorite restaurant for that one dish you’ve been craving all day to find a two-hour wait. Scenehound is coming all the way from New Orleans to help Columbusites avoid these out-and-about dilemmas with its crowd-sourced, crowd-tracking app.
Louisiana-based Founder Michael Underwood has been there. A rare night out with a group of buddies he hadn’t seen in awhile turned into disappointment when their bar of choice was noisy and crowded.
“It just wasn’t the environment I was looking forward to,” Underwood says. He thought to himself, “I wish I would have known how busy it was.”
He had to wait for the technology to catch up to the idea. The fateful bar night was about eight years ago – a time when entry into the app market was an extremely costly endeavor. But in May of 2016, the stars aligned to launch the app on both iOS and Android.
Underwood says to think of Scenehound as the Waze of bars and restaurants. The app relies on folks at any given establishment to report on what’s happening. After logging in and choosing bar or restaurant, “It will pull up a map view and on the map each location will have a corresponding dot associated with its business,” Underwood says.
Blue means short waits or a thin crowd, head towards red and a user is looking at longer waits and a full crowd. Tap on a dot and a patron finds more details like gender distribution.
“You can find the atmosphere to suit your mood,” Underwood says.
The app is free to users and generates money by having bars and restaurants pay a monthly service fee of $100 to post exclusive deals through the app to Scenehound users. Customers in New Orleans are finding it typically brings about a $1,000 of additional revenue to their bar or restaurant per month. Having launched at the end of February in Columbus, Scenehound has only signed on a few customer partners, including Black Brick Bar, Curio and Oldfield’s, but Underwood expects more soon.
Columbus was among a few potential cities for Scenehound’s first location for expansion.
“Columbus had the perfect target demographics,” Underwood says.
There are 365,000 people in the city that fall into the app’s target user of men and women ages 18-40. Columbus also has optimal bar and restaurant density with many clusters of establishments.
Through a connection in New Orleans, Underwood was introduced to Paul Reeder, the executive director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at OSU.
“After talking with Paul on the phone, it was very clear I needed to bring the business to Columbus,” Underwood says. “Multiple students had come up with the same idea and already validated the market and that the market was ready for it.”
Underwood says the app has been well-received. While getting people on board down south has been somewhat of struggle, “In general Columbus is a lot more technologically progressive than most cities,” the founder says.
Scenehound has already amassed 1,500 users and is on track to be the app’s biggest market by the end of April.
For more information, visit scenehound.com.