New Jersey Startups SXSW

Has This New Jersey Startup Cracked Social Mobile Discovery? [sxsw]

New Jersey Startup ChatScene May Have Cracked The Social Local Mobile Discovery Code

In 2010 Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai stood in front of a packed ball room at South By Southwest and introduced the world to FourSquare. It was met with thunderous applause and enough media frenzy to make your headspin. Foursquare had arrived and everyone was using it. For the next few years people across the country tried to uproot others as “Mayor” of a  specific location.

Since that day, in March of 2010, Foursquare has been a major success story, and the running joke.  In fact all of our video intros for this year’s South By Southwest coverage poke fun at the social, mobile, local category and how aspiring entrepreneurs emphatically come to the big show every year to be the next FourSquare. Banjo, Highlight and GoWalla all followed in the path of FourSquare. All three were met with pretty good success, but I’m willing to bet most of our readers have none of the FOUR apps on their phone any longer.

Two years ago, the rage was supposed to be an app called Hereby? Hereby where? It’s not on my phone? They held a big party, exhibited at the big show and bought way too much swag. We even wrote this article about them.  But where are they now?

One that hits really close to home is Brett Martin and Sonar. We covered Sonar from launch at TechCrunch Disrupt New York in 2011 to when they shuttered in 2013. Martin and I grew up in the same city and I was really pulling for them. Sonar wasn’t about pizza places, bars and dance clubs. It was about using proximity based technology to find people of interest in the same event.

ChatScene1 Has This New Jersey Startup Cracked Social Mobile Discovery? [sxsw]

ChatScene co-founder Jake Cohn talks to us at SXSW.

That’s the road Chatscene is going down. The startup, founded by Rob Chinery, Jake Cohn and Steve Gurman was originally released as a dating app. However that market was overly saturated and the team found that people were using it to make friends. People were using the app to see who was near them at concerts and sporting events, because nobody uses the “nearby” feature on Facebook. “a lot of people that just want to be nosy. People like people watching.” Chinery told TechCrunch on the Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016.

The app does all the proximity based geo magic in the background. Basically, you go somewhere, turn Chatscene on and other people with Chatscene will automatically show up. Pretty simple concept with a pretty simple name. That may be the recipe for a successful proximity based social people discovery app.

The premise has always been great. Sonar tackled, Banjo tackled it to a degree and even High Light. The three main issues facing any app in this category are privacy concerns (if you’re a privacy freak don’t download it), ease of just finding people around you, and building scale. For a proximity based social app of any kind you must build enormous scale in little to no time at all.

Cohn told us at South By Southwest they are having great response in the local New Jersey, New York area. The app is simple, show me who is around me and some of their personality traits from Facebook. Then, we can sync up, over discussing startups, technology or the new Beauty and The Beast Movie. Too many earlier versions of this story tried to feature pack fifteen things into the simplest concept. That’s what is setting Chatscene apart.

They are incorporating technology to let people know how many other people are at nearby venues. That’s a good feature too, nobody wants to go to ladies night at the local bar if there’s nobody there.

If ChatScene can get national validation and build the scale they need with their great product, it may just work out. Fingers are crossed that they don’t make the list next year of startups that aren’t around from the previous South By Southwest.

Download it now in the iOS App Store here.