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Friday, September 27, 2013

Get to know a Toronto startup: GayScene App

Gay appWe're lucky that Toronto's varied nightlife has something for pretty much anyone. One new startup wants to make it easier to locate and spread the word about events in one rich slice of our city: LGBTQ nightlife.

GayScene App is dedicated to helping you locate the city's best gay nightlife venues and easily check out listings for upcoming parties and special events. It provides directions with its geolocation tool, allows you to check-in at a location, and crosscheck a location's Yelp Review from within the app.

As the night unfolds, you can display Instagram images of your night hashtagged #gaysceneapp. Originally meant to be Toronto-specific (and event listings are still currently limited to Toronto), the app now includes club, bar and venue listings for Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa as well. Listings are highly user-generated and can easily be submitted on the app or their website.

The app was launched in May and is available for iOS, Android and other mobile devices. Traffic is currently at about 4,000 page views per weekend, with most people using it on Thursday and Friday to map out their weekend party plans.

I caught up with founder Dean Malka to find out why his startup is something this city's party people should pay attention to.

What inspired your startup?

I started GayScene App when I found out FAB Magazine would cease to be published. FAB's events section had, for a long time, been the only quick and easy means of knowing what sort of events were on the calendar unless you were plugged in with Village and Queen West scenesters. For people who don't always go out or who are visiting from out of town, Toronto's nightlife can be a bit tricky to figure out.

Before GayScene App you had to rely on word of mouth, Facebook invitations, flyers or the odd website with mostly generic and out of date information. Now you have all the information available in one spot displayed as a list, or a dynamic map that can provide you with directions, reviews and event listings to name a few. It's far richer than any print medium could be.

Who would really love using this app?

While GayScene App has resonated with its obvious user base, people interested in LGBTQ nightlife, I think it's an exciting demonstration of what can be done with technology for any community. The basic construct of the app is relevant information about the relevant things presented in an easy-to-navigate, portable package. I could see this format being useful for universities, tightly-knit professional groups and so on. We're actually preparing to provide a white-label mobile app design service for affinity groups that could use the same building blocks for different interests and services.

Any plans to add events in other cities?

We hope to add Montreal in the near future. We're always looking for people "in the know" in different cities that can funnel the most up to date and relevant listings. That's the key differentiator for GayScene - it's curated and updated many times a week, as soon as either a promoter or venue submit a listing, or as soon as our eyes and ears find out about something that people should know about.

How does GayScene generate revenue?

Advertising completely drives our revenue. Companies bid to run banner ads on the app using Google AdMob or MoPub Marketplace. It offers a great means of targeting the LGBTQ market in specific cities or neighbourhoods thanks to the geolocation that also helps its users find the places and events near them.

Who do you see as competitors?

Our competitors are what remains of LGBTQ print media and other apps that target the LGBTQ community. GayCities is both a website and app and has been around for many years and has a worldwide listing of locations, but it's very vast and not always current. Out competitive advantage is that we're targeted and extremely up-to-date. That's why we're holding off on adding every possible city - we want to focus on quality and relevance.

Any new features in the pipeline?

We've dabbled with some features that more closely integrate the app to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We're trying a few different things to see what really enhances the experience.

by Anna Starasts via blogTO

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