A Night Out With BarUp

The New App’s Founders Aim To Draw Crowds To A Fun, Central Location

The workweek is long and does not provide much opportunity to deviate from a routine—a chance to go out at night sometime Sunday through Thursday is often welcome.

If people are anything like Alex Chin and Jimmy Aird, the co-founders of a new app called “BarUp,” they have probably been disappointed to find bars nearly empty—far from the fun atmosphere they were looking for on a weeknight. It was this disappointment that prompted Chin and Aird to create their new app, which is built upon a simple idea—bring all of the workweek bar-goers to the same bar.

“We really just started an app that will bring all those people who are sitting at bars nearby to one community bar that everyone will go to,” Chin said. “We created the app to get a real weekend feel during the work week.”

Chin, a native of Canton, Mass., now lives in Boston and works downtown at an online e-commerce startup called Yottaa. He and Aird—also a resident of Boston—used to go to one of their favorite bars on a random weeknight and were always frustrated to find that there were only 10 to 15 people there. Then they would go across the street and find another scattering of people in the next bar. Why, they reasoned, wasn’t there be some way to get all these people into one packed bar?

Chin believes BarUp is the solution to this problem. The app, which officially launched on Aug. 28, sends push notifications to users and lets them know which bar to go to on a given night.

“There’s really no special algorithm in terms of a special beer or where everyone’s going to go tonight based on a certain thing,” Chin said. “It’s really just creating a database of bars that we’ve been to and think are good and have heard have been good, and just sticking to those bars.” Chin and Aird conducted market research throughout Boston to determine the best bars and created a list of spots from there.

Additionally, Chin explained, they have an advantage in that he and Aird live in Boston, and some of the other co-founders grew up here—therefore, they have a good sense of the nightlife in the area.

Although the app is fairly new, it has had a promising start. The BarUp Launch Party, held at The Point on Hanover St. on Aug. 28, attracted over 200 attendees, and the app received over 500 downloads that night, according to Chin. The event was sponsored by Magic Hat, who stationed servers outside the bar offering patrons their new IPO beer.

Although BarUp was created with the intention of getting people physically together in a bar during the week, the creators also hope that it will promote a sense of community in Boston. BarUp includes a Twitter feature that allows users to view all tweets that are incorporated with the hashtag #BarUp, or anything that mentions it. “The reason we included that is for when you are sitting home and you want to get a feel of where people are, or what’s going on at a bar,” Chin said. “Now, you can do that.”

Right now, the app is only available in Boston, but Chin says expansion into other cities is definitely a possibility, and something they are hoping to do. “Boston is our home,” Chin said. “We want to perfect the app here before we move to other cities.”

In the short term, however, the team at BarUp has plans to organize a pub crawl for its users, in which the only people who will know the destinations will be Chin and his fellow team members. They will move people from bar to bar, he explained, by sending push notifications that alert everyone what the next bar will be. The event will be sometime in late October, Chin said, and they will start promoting it in the next couple of weeks.

As is the case for many social media startups, the success of BarUp relies heavily on a large following and consistent loyalty to the app. If it attains numerous followers, it has the potential to grow and offer more opportunities for connections within the community. The pub crawl represents what the creators hope will be the first of many virtual events, and they also see the potential for partnerships between BarUp and bars around the city. Until then, the most immediate goal is to solve the workweek bar scene problem that they have identified in Boston.

Featured Image by Maggie Powers / Heights Graphic