If you live in San Francisco, chances are you’ve heard of an app called Sōsh, which takes all the guesswork out of finding really interesting, awesome things to do nearby. But here in New York, the word Sōsh has no meaning at all, except for maybe being a reference to one of my favorite characters on “Girls”.
But that’s about to change, as Sōsh is officially launching in New York.
Sōsh is a “concierge” app that scrapes every possible source on the internet, whether it’s events-related blogs, restaurant review sites, or Twitter, to bring the very best activities in your city right to the palm of your hand. You can browse through categories like Fine Dining, Under $30, Creative Cocktails, Burgers, and Date Night, among many others, or you can choose to look at the “Here and Now” category to see what’s right in your neighborhood.
From there you can bookmark events based on what you’d like to do, or click the “Done It” button to show how cool you are for already having experienced the wonders Sōsh has to offer.
So you might be wondering: what’s the difference between this and any other events site or Yelp! even? Well, for one, Sōsh is all about the very “best” restaurants, nightlife, cooking classes, farmers markets, etc. Something with a two-star rating wouldn’t even show up on Sōsh. Part of that has to do with the company’s very advanced algorithm, and part of it has to do with the fact that, before anything ever goes up on Sōsh, it’s inspected by a real human to make sure it’s legit.
Rishi Mandal, co-founder and creator, explained to TechCrunch why he kept Sōsh all bottled up in San Francisco for so long without expanding to other cities, and it all comes down to user experience and acquisition. “Achieving a high density in one market creates an echo chamber amongst users, and allows us to have a profound impact on local businesses, advancing the prospects of a business model much more quickly,” said Mandal. Plus, it lets the team focus on quality curation, which can be a pain in the hyperlocal game.
And he’s not joking around about that “high density” thing. One in every 10 adults in San Francisco has the Sōsh app, and one in eight of 21-48-year olds uses the app, which is good news considering that’s Sōsh’s target demographic. And according to Mandal, the majority of those users come back into the app at least once a week.
What’s even better, this high density has absolutely achieved the “echo chamber” effect Mandal mentioned earlier, as the average Sōsh user has 13 friends on the app at the point of download. I, being awesome, had 18.
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But Sōsh is also collecting crazy amounts of data, just from its SF user base. So far, the app has made over 10 million recommendations to users, with many millions of data points amassed around what people like. However, that won’t make a difference in the city that never sleeps.
Mandal mentioned that the challenges in SF are very different from those in NYC. In San Francisco, users are hungry for cool activities, whereas New Yorkers tend to have trouble sifting through the hundreds of daily activities in the city to find the good ones. But Sōsh has adapted the app to fit NYCer picky preferences, just as the app will evolve into much more than a concierge.
The idea, Mandal explained, came from the fact that users have such high expectations of their digital world. Everything needs to be fast, fluid, functional, and intuitive. However, these high standards don’t cross over into the real world.
“If you make a reservation at a restaurant and show up on time, and the hostess tells you to wait 15 minutes, you wait 15 minutes,” he said. It’s just expected.
The real goal of Sōsh, eventually, is to raise your expectations in the real world. Mandal envisions users finding a restaurant they love, seeing available tables and times, booking reservations, and even possibly booking a car to the restaurant, all from the app. He wants Sōsh to almost take on a digital assistant role. But, you know, one that actually works.
I’ll be interested to see Sōsh spread like wildfire in NY just as it did in San Francisco. But have no fear, ye flyover states, because Sōsh is already planning out an Android version of the app, and further expansions.
The next cities on the list are Boston, Seattle, LA, and Chicago, with further roll-outs to follow. The app is available now in the App Store.