Friends are great. They help you out of jams, drive you to the airport and sometimes even give you their leftover meatloaf. There are numerous scenarios where having friends beats the crippling despair of being alone, not that I speak from experience… but friends are not without their downsides. I’m sure we have all been in a position where a group of friends are planning to go out to eat, but our budgets plead with us not to join. Now, however, thanks to a new app created by two Ohio State students called Socialyze, you can join your friends without breaking the bank.
Founded by Tyler Stohr and Salem Kahn, Socialyze give users savings at restaurants, bars and co ee shops around campus when you go with your friends. All users have to do is go to one of the businesses featured on the app with the number of friends listed for a certain deal and boom, you have got savings. Originally conceived by Kahn, Socialyze acts as a solution to a problem faced by many college students – overspending when going out with friends. After graduation, Kahn set o to work on turning his idea into tangible results.
“I did some research and found that more than 80% of US college students hang out in groups of two or more and then over 76% want a deal or want savings when they go out,” Kahn says. “So, I just wanted to combine those two together and that is exactly what the app does.”
At the time, however, Kahn had little experience with code, which is where Stohr came in. Stohr and Kahn met at Code That Cares, a student organization founded by Stohr which builds iOS apps for charities and non-profi ts. As Stohr describes, “Salem approached the club last spring as a prospective member and he was working on this app, Socialyze, and was asking me about a problem he had. Then one thing led to another and we started working together outside of club hours.”
Even though Kahn is a Fisher graduate and Stohr is a geographic information systems major, the team has to be fl exible in their responsibilities to continually expand, as is the case with most startups. Like Stohr says, “There is only two of us for the most part, so we really both contribute to everything.” This means that both Kahn and Stohr have to be knowledgeable of both the business and programming ends of running an application.
Initially, Socialyze faced a classic chicken and egg dilemma that many startups have to overcome. Getting both businesses and users to use your app is di cult when you fi rst launch and have neither.
“You have to go one at a time,” Stohr says. “Say let us start with this business because they are willing to work with applications…and we will get an initial base of users from friends and some minor marketing and it just kind of builds o itself and hopefully the name starts to stick.”
Focusing on the campus and Columbus areas, Socialyze is continually trying to recruit businesses to join their service. While they already have some campus favorites such as Buckeye Donuts, Hangover Easy and Lucky’s Stout House, Stohr and Kahn are constantly meeting with businesses to get them on the app.
“It is a lot of legwork to go out to all of these businesses, try and contact the managers going back several times,” Stohr says, “We are very prepared with suggested deals and prepared materials for them. We try and bargain the best deals for what we feel that we deserve […] they are getting multiple customers and the customers are getting a good deal – so it is a win-win.”
On the horizon, Socialyze hopes to get even more Columbus restaurants and bars on the service and continue to expand their user base. Socialyze has seen steady growth since their launch: they do everything from handing out swag at businesses on the app or even sponsoring student organization events. They are constantly on the lookout for promotion opportunities, businesses to recruit and events to sponsor. As Stohr says, “it is all about repeated exposure of the name.”
The space for food service apps is pretty crowded, but Socialyze taps into a portion of this market that has been largely underserved – social eating. In this sense, Socialyze holds a unique position in an otherwise homogenous industry. “There is no one else whose doing this,” Kahn says. “We looked far and wide when we were going to do this, we looked for who our direct competitors would be and there were not any […] We really have this gap in the market that we could use to our advantage.”
Creating an app is far from easy, but the team at Socialyze is making moves and continually growing in a challenging fi eld. So, why should you use Socialyze? Well, Kahn has two simple questions for you, “Do you have friends? And if the answer is yes, do you want to save money with friends? And if the answer to that question is yes too, then you should use Socialyze.”