Startups #nofilter had the privilege of speaking with the Akross team, led by Co-Founders Tomer Sasson and Asaf Shema. Akross is an app which is revolutionizing the going out at night experience: CEO Tomer Sasson provides some great insights and background into Akross:
1) Let’s start with the name. This whole time I’ve been pronouncing it “Aye-cross”, and now I understand it to be simply “Across”. Explain the meaning behind the name for those of us who took some time to understand it.
Akross is a play on two different concepts: First of all, we felt that with this app, we were enabling users to reach “across” pre-existing social circles to find the BEST activities and nightlife while connecting with new people. Once we decided on the name, one of us (I won’t say who) is secretly a history nerd and we discovered that “Akros” means highest point in ancient Greek and it was perfect because we’re capturing the highest points of your night 🙂
2) For those who don’t know, Akross is a live social app which crowdsources information on which bars/clubs are worthwhile to go to. People can download the app and see where the hot parties are. Can you give a tad more background?
Akross is less of a “place” discovery app than a social app that helps you organize your night with friends and meet new people while you’re out. The app shows you bars and events in your area, but more importantly, you can see who’s going out tonight, let them know where you’re going or choose together based on the information you see in each place. For example, you might see that a certain bar gets really crowded at 11 pm so you could go earlier if you want to catch up with a friend or after 11 if you want to have a crazy dance night out.
3) One cool feature of Akross is that it tells people the gender ratio of any given bar/club based on crowdsourced data. First of all, I wish this app existed 8 years. On a serious note, how reliable is that intel? Can one person enter gender ratio data into the app and then that number will be displayed for all users?
The bigger the community of users gets, the more reliable the info will be – kind of the way Waze works best when a whole bunch of people can provide data points at the same time. We do allow users to “set the record straight” but we take those reports into account algorithmically since we know competitors of bars always exist.
4) It seems that a big part of your app promotion is by using brand ambassadors. How does that work? Do you find out who’s popular and ask them to use the app? Can anyone be a brand ambassador?
Unless we got a personal referral to someone, users must apply to be an ambassador. With the exception of Arizona where we have one outstanding partner, we are only accepting ambassadors around the Boston area. We look for diversity, passion for the idea, well-connectedness, enthusiasm and a sense of humor.
5) You app rightly focuses on the user, ie the person going out. Have you thought about getting hosts (bartenders, servers etc) in on the app, to enter data, or promote events?
The more the merrier! If anyone approaches us, we are happy to have a conversation about it, as long as the quality and reliability of the content doesn’t change.
6) You website displays a prominent link to the iTunes store. Any plans for an Android version?
Android is definitely in the works. Most of our team members have both Androids and iPhones so we know the need.
7) Can you give us any data or numbers? How many installs?
Though we haven’t officially started any marketing campaigns in Boston, we have partnered with students at 7 schools around Boston and the numbers we got even before arriving here really surprised us. We soft-launched in Tel Aviv this summer and the app was super successful, which I guess shouldn’t come as a surprise in such a nightlife friendly city!
8) Your app recently launched in Boston. I understand choosing one specific city to start in. But why Boston in particular?
We chose Boston for several reasons.. the city has an awesome startup ecosystem and there’s a feeling of excitement here for new ventures just like in Tel Aviv. We also love that there are so many students and young professionals and that the scene is always changing. We really felt there would be a need here to connect with old friends and meet new people.
9) Give me 1 regret you have so far with your app development or marketing/promotion.
Wow, well, I’m not sure I can give you one specific regret but I can definitely say that things are never going to turn out the way you think they will and that really highlights the importance of keeping an open mind, being flexible and moving quickly, both in marketing and dev aspects.
10) For Fun: What website do you go to when you need to check if your internet is working?
http://akross.me 😉 or NASA’s space station live stream. I make my colleagues watch that all the time.
11) One quick piece of advice for Startups #nofilter?
Your team is everything. Make sure to find quality people to partner with and to hire. Not only does the work depend on it, but so does your sanity when you’re with them 24/7. 😉