By Chandler Luhowskyj
Whether you’re a young professional or a college student new to the city, chances are you’ve been left high and dry on a weekend when your party plans got cancelled. Typically in the past, you’d be left scrambling trying to text your buddies to figure out what the next move is going to be-- sometimes with no such luck. Fortunately, this is a thing of the past with whosCROWDED. whosCROWDED is an app that allows you to instantly locate nearby events and parties so you’ll never have to spend another Friday night disappointed at home or in your dorm room.
Bilal got the idea after one weekend when his plans got blown off and was left without a back-up. Shortly thereafter, whosCROWDED was launched. Bilal, originally a Seattleite but attended the University of Idaho to study advertising, launched the app in 2014. The concept is similar to Foursquare in its hay day, except instead of trying to visit different businesses, the objective is to visit the most parties possible. One of the core ideas behind whosCROWDED is to help people put their phones down and actually go out and experience life. Other popular social media apps like Facebook and Twitter are intentionally designed to keep you engrossed on their app for as long as possible — whosCROWDED aims to do the exact opposite. They’ve deliberately designed their app only to be used to find the nearest party or event and then encouraging them to socialize in real life.
At the core, it’s relatively simple — it’s all about ending boredom and having a good time. A clever gamified experience entices users to attend more and more parties so they can collect badges and win exclusive perks. Users log-in to the app at any time and are able to see a map listing of all of the hot parties going on nearby. The more parties you attend, the faster you climb the leaderboard.
However, whosCROWDED has a few more tricks up their sleeve. If people attend an event with a live DJ they’re given the option to tip the DJ. Not only does this help fuel up and coming DJs, but users are rewarded with additional badges and points when they choose to leave a tip. Bilal recalls meeting with Deadmau5 in 2017 and said he was a big fan of the app, especially the DJ tipping functionality.
Like any other startup, there’s bound to be some bumps along the way. One of the biggest concerns Bilal has had to navigate throughout the past few years is the balancing act between finding promoters, events and parties, and users. In order for people to use the app, there needs to be a widespread amount of available parties...in order for there to be lots of events, there needs to be a large number of users on the app. Bilal has solved this problem by encouraging their users to do both.
On the topic of funding, Bilal has been bootstrapping the company since day one. Like any other startup, this comes with both positive and negative experiences. As of writing this article, whosCROWDED is currently in the process of raising $1.2 million to further expand their marketing efforts. “We have a super solid app developed with all of the tech built-out, we just need the additional capital to start tapping into a new user base,” says Bilal.
Despite working in tech since 2015, Bilal recalls the roadblocks he’s had with trying to raise capital as an African American in the industry. “It might be the start of a new day,” says Bilal, “There was recently an African American founder who raised $4 million during his seed round. This may be the start to a turning point within the industry.”
Despite having thick skin, Bilal admits that it can be defeating to not close on a deal. “Be ready for a lot of no’s...there’s going to be a lot of them and it won’t make a lot of sense. I’ve had potential investors on the edge of investing and it still winds up being a no,” Bilal says. He also mentioned that it’s important to surround yourself with seasoned mentors and other entrepreneurs to guide you along the way. “There are lessons that I’ve learned throughout the journey that I’m glad I didn’t know when first starting out. Some level of ignorance is bliss in the beginning,” says Bilal.
Bilal’s big vision for the app is for people to be able to virtually attend other parties around the world and see what foreign partygoers are up to. “So many different parts of the world listen to different types of music and wear different fashion when going out, I think that could be huge for people to discover,” says Bilal.
If you’re curious to learn more about whosCROWDED and see what’s happening next, check out their website.