Ever waited in line at a club, expecting it to be hot, only to get inside and realize that the scene isn’t what you hoped for or that your friends already flocked to the next spot? It sucks. And now, it doesn’t have to happen.
With beta testing done through a pool of 500 users (which grew to just under 1,000 strictly by word of mouth), bugs ironed out and updates ready to launch, mynightCap wants to be your in-the-moment guide to the best clubs, pubs, bars and lounges in Las Vegas, LA, San Diego and San Francisco.
Founders Rene Durruthy (whose day job is in strategic marketing) and Emeka Orjiakor (whose day job is in law), met in college about 10 years ago and both love to club. Durruthy holds it down in Vegas while Orjiakor goes out in LA, and with their shared love of tech, it was only right that they apply the app’s services to San Francisco. Durruthy grew up in San Diego and has a dense network of nightlifers there, so adding that city to the mix made sense, too. Given the app’s functionality, which is based on check-ins, user-curated data on venues and personal shares—from where they’re headed for the night to photos they take while they’re partying—it could be shaped to any market where there are places to drink and dance, see and be seen.
“We’ve noticed that there isn’t really a way to see what’s popular, what’s happening, the cool clubs to go to that night. So you could go to Yelp, you know, maybe Twitter and just see what’s going on that way, but you have month-old reviews on Yelp. It’s not real-time. So that’s the void we’re trying to target,” Durruthy says. “Some of the cool things with the app, it lists all the clubs in order of how many people are checked in that night: either it’s red, meaning it’s hot, or it’s not, which is gray. … Right when you open the home screen you see what the good clubs are.”
Because the user base is still beta-size, Durruthy says the data will get more and more accurate as the community grows. And the mynightCap experience doesn’t stop with knowing which clubs are drawing crowds. Here’s Durruthy's primer on the app’s features:
Hangover “One of the ways we kind of draw users back into the app is we have what’s called the 'Hangover.' … When you take pictures at the club or when you’re out, the next morning you’re going to get a photo slideshow of not only your pictures but your friends, or what we call your 'Entourage.' If you go to the Bank and I go to Marquee, the next morning we’ll both have hangovers—you’ll see my hangover, I’ll see your hangover. So that’s kinda how it works; it just compiles all your friends’ pictures and delivers it to you each morning if you checked into a club.”
Vision “You open up the app and click on 'Vision,' and it operates just like a camera [in augmented reality], so you see through a camera lens, and if you move left or if you move right you’ll see the icons floating on the screen. The icon will either be red, and it will show the amount of people checked into the app, or it’ll be cold, it’ll be gray.”
Entourage “Once you click into the app there’s a row of your Entourage there, and they’ll be highlighted in red if they’re checked into a club, so you’ll know who’s going out. You’ll also get notifications [that your friends are planning to go clubbing and where]. Essentially it’s the same thing as having a friends list, it’s just a lot more tailored to events and nightlife.”
Feed “It’s all real-time, and what’s cool about it is it’s on an actual venue page. … So you can see if you really want to go into a club. If you don’t know who’s in there, what the photos look like, you go onto the venue page and you see the interaction and the photos and video and all that good stuff.”
Name “The term 'nightcap' really came through once we were talking about the photo recaps. So that’s kind of how it spun off into mynightCap.”
Durruthy says that the initial app design was done without any direction or help from the venues in the database. The plan was to build a solid demo that would convince promoters and venue operators of the app’s value in order to get them on board and grant them access to their own portals, where details can be updated and inappropriate user content can be edited. There’s a banner on each venue page that Durruthy hopes will become drop-downs filled with insider information.
“Whether it’s dress code or what to say at the door or who to get the bottle from or different types of specials, it’s all there,” he says of the planned banner content. When it comes to booking relationships, mynightCap is already in talks with one of the world’s largest VIP tours operating in Vegas and several club management groups. Durruthy admits that since undertaking the app he’s gone out a lot less, but he still has his favorite Vegas spots: 1 Oak, Gallery and XS.
No matter how useful and fun the app may be, the App Store is pretty crammed with useful and fun diversions. “The industry is big, and from talking to a couple people in the same space, they say they get pitched about 10 to 20 different apps a day. So it’s pretty damn competitive," Durruthy says. "But I haven’t seen any competitors who do exactly what we do. I’ve noticed that most people who come up with apps, they’re thinking about it the wrong way as far as nightlife goes. They tend to do more events, so concerts or Facebook events like birthdays. So club promoters, they get a lot of their information from Facebook events, but that information isn’t really great, and it’s not real-time, so it doesn’t give you the insight that you need for the clubs.”
For new users, Durruthy had just one piece of advice: “It’s only as good as they make it. So the bigger the entourage, the better time they’ll have using the app.”