This summer, Tandem Entrepreneurs raised a $40 million fund to continue investing in its incubator and capital fund, both focused exclusively on startups building solutions for the mobile space. One of the four companies (which includes JungleApps, GimmieWorld, and Flit) funded in Tandem’s most recent batch is coming out of private beta today to get young people off the couch and into the fray.
UpOut, as its name implies, is an online event discovery service that wants to get you involved in fun activities that are happening right now, in realtime. Founded by two young Babson College entrepreneurs, Martin Shen and William King, UpOut is intending to do for local events what Yelp has done for the local restaurant market, showing what’s nearby, what’s inexpensive, and what people like you are recommending.
Co-founder Martin Shen says that the local events space is still largely dominated by traditional print media, like TimeOut and other hyperlocal weekly print (and online) publications. But he thinks that those traditional media outlets that have made the jump to the Web are outdated, inaccurate, and fail to offer simple ways to identify the most interesting events, especially those that pertinent to young people.
The issue is that many young people, whether they’re in college, working at startups or big companies, are busy defining their careers, studying — in essence, they’re work a lot and they’re busy. But the younger working stiffs of the world are often forced to be spontaneous in their leisure or nightlife activities. Shen says that few young people plan a night’s activity much before they actually leave their apartments.
That’s why UpOut is focusing on the spontaneity aspect of planning a night out, as the startup seeks to offer an event-centric, location-enabled solution that people can use while they’re on the go. Rather than combing through a list of events that may be expired, static or irrelevant, UpOut has created a service that is designed to recommend events and activities based on location, interests, social media signals, and your favorite venues — all based on what’s happening around you right now.
Along with AOL and Yahoo, and hundreds of newsweeklies, there umpteen services that are trying (or have tried) to address local events, but both Tandem and UpOut believe that the “spontaneous” element has really been lacking in the many approaches taken to local event recommendations. Both King and Shen and had been running a web design business out of their dorm room at Babson, but Shen told us that he’s not a big planner, nor are most young people, and they were having trouble discovering cool events when they had opportunities to take a break from coding and designing.
Shen said that he was tired of wheeling through event listings to find events that seemed appealing, only to show up and discover that the price of admission wasn’t exactly conducive to a founder — or college student’s — budget. So, he says that the partnerships that the team has forged, and the events database they’ve built, are focused on non-ticketed events. And when the events they showcase are ticketed, most tend to be under $40 — that’s where they see the most demand.
UpOut is adding 1,000 entertainment events, happy hours, and specials a week (in categories like Arts, Music, Touristy, Relax, etc) — all of which are happening right now. Users can mark events they’re interested in as “awesome”, which can be saved for later viewing, or follow their favorite categories. The service also uses your event preferences to serve you more relevant results as you go.
Unfortunately for those not currently located in the Bay Area, UpOut’s event listings are SF-only at this point, but Shen says that the team is working on launching its service in new cities beginning in early 2012 — as well as launching a mobile app. The startup is using the infusion of capital from its Tandem investment to hire programmers.
For more, check out UpOut at home here, and let us know what you think.