Kansas City, Mo. – A homegrown tech company is ready to expand to another city by expanding to a new metro area.
UpDown NightLife is partnering with a coalition of bars in Westport to help people find a place to spend the weekend. This new partnership gives local startups their first opportunity to work with the entire entertainment district as it continues to grow.
“On any given weekend, there are 11,000-12,000 people checking in to see where to go,” says UpDown NightLife Founder and CEO Josh Lewis. “That’s a big deal.”
He estimates around 18,000 people use the app, which helped him raise $500,000 to help hire more people and build more apps.
“In general, it’s how we break through a district,” Lewis said. “How do we understand what the county needs in terms of driving traffic.”
It has helped people like Tyara Edwin build her DJ business, under the stage name Dj Tee Leche, by promoting her shows at UpDown and going to other shows she finds there.
“There are not so many different options right now in Kansas City, it is important to be able to see where people are ahead of time,” said Edwin.
Bar/Restaurant owner Brett Allred says the app’s targeted approach has brought people to his business.
“Josh [Lewis] being able to centralize that, I think, that offers value to people,” Allred said. “I believe the people who are going to the app, they’re looking for something specific.”
That’s where employees like UpDown Head of Content and Culture Abram Shaffer come in, helping venues better reach the crowds they hope to draw.
“In the nightlife industry, the trends we see, the music we dance to, the drinks we drink, it’s all because of culture,” Shaffer said. “People want to not only see the posts they see, but they want to relate to them in some way.”
That’s why influencers like Alia McGee are taking charge, posting more interesting content and active posts like videos than the pictures of events that might have sufficed in the past.
“People are more attracted to video and visuals and they want to see what it looks like when you come out,” McGee said. “So it’s one thing when we have a show, we shoot a behind-the-scenes video and we push it for a week and when the weekend comes, people are excited.”
After a summer that saw a fatal shooting that hurt a handful of people in the Wesport area, Lewis said an app like his pushes back the idea that good times after dark lead to bad things.
“The thing about apps in general is that they promote positive nightlife, really,” Lewis said. “It’s all about hotspots, plum places, cool drinks.”
Lewis says Kansas City is a good place to launch because there’s no hard-to-enter nightlife scene here. The goal is to grow in the metro before branching out to other cities.
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