timeRAZOR, the D.C.-area startup which raised $3.4 million pre-launch to build a better events finder, has arrived today on mobile. The new apps, available for both iOS and Android, work by using your phone’s geolocation features combined with a built-in recommendation engine to help suggest nearby events that you may have otherwise missed. It also integrates with your phone’s built-in calendar, to suggest events taking place near your out-of-office meetings and social appointments.
The company has several things going for it, not only its good-sized angel funding round, but also a big events database, cross-platform support, and a board that includes comScore co-founder Linda Abraham, former Microsoft exec Eddie Amos and Gene Riechers, co-founder and senior advisor at Valhalla Partners. And it has relatively robust roster of launch partners – a list that already has several well-known brands participating. The brands are partnering with timeRAZOR to offer users “carefully selected experiences,” which means they’ll deliver unique, special and limited-quantity promotions to the app’s users, which show up when those people are nearby, or are planning to be nearby, the event venue.
At launch the list of partners includes Chrysler SRT, Dodge Viper, Guardian Angel Motorsports, L’Oreal’s Active Cosmetics Division, Marriott Renaissance Hotels, CBRE, World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA), Vail Valley Foundation, JetSet Studios, several local retail properties (The Shops at Dos Lagos, The Village at Leesburg and West 7th), Boston-area HWS Group’s four minor league baseball teams, and some other Fortune 500 companies and local brands.
“They are experiences and events,” explains timeRAZAR co-founder Victoria Clark of the offers the brands will soon provide users. “[The brands have] really invested a lot of money in these experiential marketing campaigns. They’re bringing interesting and cool content,” she says, like “really incredible live music that they’re sponsoring or having for free.” For an example of the type of experience they mean: a pop-up concert where there are a limited number of tickets available.
The app currently pulls in over 300,000 event listings per day from over 100 different sources, making it one of the larger events databases available. Some of the events are scraped, while others are pulled in through partnership agreements.
The events are organized within the app in various sections: “planned,” “possible,” “for me” and “by me,” meaning those you have on your calendar, available events, recommended events, and those special events you’ve chosen to attend, respectively. You can add them to your phone’s calendar, view event details, share them with friends and even get “travel time” alerts that tell you when you need to leave to make the event.
And now for the bad news: the app is kind of a mess. (I tested the iPhone version). The user interface is unattractive, it doesn’t flow, buttons like “add to calendar” are hard to press (hint: press just the orange button, not the text beside it), and even the choice of icon leaves me cold. It’s bright orange, emblazoned with big, white text reading “NEVER MISS OUT.”
Maybe I’m picky, but this app just didn’t do it for me.
Co-founder Jeff White says the company has been busy focusing on the backend, and the complexities of those systems. Responding to my
rant feedback, he explains that they decided to put something out there that already does a lot for people from the get-go, even if its not “pretty.” Writes White:
Trying to solve the question of what is interesting and convenient to do at any given point in a person’s day is pretty complex, so we focused on the working professional (for now) since that’s such a key section of smartphone users. Their schedules are full, they travel – they rely heavily on their phones to help them figure out where to go and what to do….Yeah, it could be prettier – but it’s really not that god-awful, is it? – but we think it’s a lot more functional than something pretty that does one thing. Or 400 pretty things that do one thing each.
Indeed, the app may be functional, but to get users to return, apps need to engage, attract, and be enjoyable to use, too. At least that’s how it usually works.
You can give it a test drive for yourself and form your own opinion. The app is available for download here.