TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based SceneTap, a mobile and web service to connect travellers and locals in restaurants an bars.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
My name is Cole Harper, and I’m the co-founder and CEO of SceneTap. SceneTap is a free app for iPhone, Android and the web that provides real-time info on the local bar scene, including male-to-female ratio, average age, crowd size, and drink specials.
I started the company in the fall of 2010 and we launched this July in Chicago.
I have a background in financial management. Our team’s leadership has a wealth of experience in finance, technology and nightlife.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
We raised capital primarily through friends, family and angel investors.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Bar owners have never before had a comprehensive picture of who their customers are or a way to measure their marketing/promotion efforts. Travelers have never had a comprehensive resource like this so easily available to them. Our app solves both.
Describe the business, core products and services?
SceneTap gathers information using facial-detection cameras placed at bar entrances. Video feeds are not accessible or recorded, and users remain entirely anonymous.
Bar owners can send out exclusive deals over the app, and users can chat on each bar’s talk page. Users can even request an alert when a bar meets their requirements (e.g. when a bar within five miles empties out enough to grab a table).
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Our target users are young, urban adults at least 21 years old who have one or more drinks on a weekly basis.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Absolutely. I think a lot of people have been in a situation where they show up at a new bar and it’s not necessarily what they expected.
We surveyed hundreds of people throughout the development of our application to find out what drives their decisions to choose their hang-out spots. It’s important to know what they care about most, and SceneTap incorporates as many of those things as possible.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
The business model is to build a network of venues in each market and focus on building the user base within those markets.
SceneTap makes money from users through advertising and will primary generate revenue from bars in the form of coupons and advertising fees.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- SceneTap is unique and conceptually provides people with information they have always wanted.
- People want a lot of information and it will take time for SceneTap to incorporate all of the features people will want.
- If there is any place that people care to know the scene (restaurant, airport, amusement park), SceneTap can be there one day.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- The daily deals and coupon industry seems to have peaked, and this may threaten a primary source of revenue.
One night I was at a crowded bar in Chicago with my friend (and now co-founder of SceneTap) Marc Doering.
Hardly able to carry on a conversation because of the noise, I mentioned that it would be great if there was a way to automatically tally the number of people in a bar so that you could check the scene before you arrived. Marc said that the solution would have to be automated, and require extensive software and non-intrusive cameras. He told me it would be impossible.
I said: "We’ll see".
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Our goal is to be in 1,000 venues one year from now.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.