There were inklings of hints that this was the frattiest startup of all time. For starters, the subject line of the email pitch was “Not Porn” and it was about an app called Drunk Mode that helps wastoids avoid the unsightly ramifications of getting wasted.
The app was started by Josh Anton in 2013 during his time at University of Virginia. He told me that he thought of the startup when a friend drunk dialed him “at a party at 3 AM and said some things she wouldn’t have said sober.”
I wanted to hear about the ensuing tales of intrigue as him and his frat bros wrestled with starting a totally rad app while also picking up chicks and pounding back natty lights, but alas it turns out that Anton wasn’t in a fraternity and doesn’t even drink much. This took me back a bit when considering that his product is currently one of the most popular inebriated app aids available with about 750k downloads to date.
The app, which Anton so eloquently described as a “condom for your phone,” is aimed at assisting users who’ve had a few too many avoid making choices that they’ll regret, while also helping them keep an eye on their friends.
One of the app’s central features is a drunk dial blocker which lets you select specific contacts in your phone to hide while you’re out. Another section is aimed more towards keeping friends safe, “Find My Drunk” lets you see the GPS location of buddies that you’re going out with (with their approval of course) just to be sure that everybody makes it home safely.
Another feature, “Breadcrumbs,” aims to help you find something that you may have lost while you were stumbling home the night before. It does so by gathering passive GPS data and essentially making a map of everywhere you’ve been over the past day. This is mostly creepy and the data is kind of rudimentary, but if you’re party hopping and blacking out, this could assist you in finding your phone, wallet, keys and shoes the next morning.
The mission of the app can feel a bit disjointed at times as it balances promoting typical frattiness and safety. A couple of the new features the app is launching this fall kind of embody that.
In September, the app will be announcing integration with Fabriq, a paid service that can help someone in seriously dangerous or life-threatening situations.
Fabriq’s website lists a couple of the upcoming integrations:
Added right to the Find My Drunk Map, FABRIQ’s signature Panic Button keeps you connected. This button texts an alert to loved ones if you find yourself in a dangerous situation and allows them to send out your safety profile to everyone on the FABRIQ network in your area/campus.
In an emergency, your loved ones can escalate an alert and blast out your profile to everyone in the FABRIQ network that’s within 3-5 miles of your last known location.
Meanwhile, they’re also focusing on a major feature called “Hotspots” that will let users check into a bar or frat house and look up the girl-to-guy ratio at the party, basically so people know whether they’re going to score or not.
I think it’s smart for the app to prioritize safety while also showing off some fun features to attract young college users, but building features like “Hotspots” and calling it a “condom for your phone,” might not be the best marketing moves for an app that can also send out abduction alerts.
On the user side, this app definitely has some attractive features, and with a couple hundred thousand active users Drunk Mode really has the potential to make an impact on campuses, especially as college administration’s look for student-friendly avenues to employ campus alert systems.
So the next time you’re thinking Smirnoff Ice is the right move for you, perhaps opening this app to help you stay safe and make smarter choices is as well.