Cowie ’16 Develops Phone App for Nightlife Experience

OWEN PAN-KITA ’19

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Most college students have experienced nights where they want to go out, but can’t agree on a location. From worrying about how crowded a certain bar might be or what specials are being promoted, there are a number of variables that affect where a group decides to go. Trinity student Chris Cowie ’16 created the phone app, Howl, to help ease nightlife stress.

Cowie and his older sister Becky grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. The pair constantly saw companies growing and succeeding or falling to the wayside. Chris never had a traditional summer job, and always wanted to start his own business. Venturing into the app industry wasn’t out of the ordinary for him.

Last year, Becky approached him with the idea for Howl. The pair lives in Massachusetts, about 30 minutes outside of Boston, so getting into the city isn’t the easiest thing to do. Becky would find herself frequently frustrated that after she had trekked into the city she had a subpar night. She wanted to be able to use her phone so that she could see how the atmosphere of her destination would be before traveling so far.

Chris loved the idea Becky brought to the table, and related to its purpose. Chris is a bartender at the Trinity hotspot, The Tap Café. Chris gets bombarded with texts at work asking, “How is it?,” “Is there a cover tonight?,” and “Is it crowded?” Chris is doing his job, and doesn’t necessarily have time to answer all of the texts he receives. The app takes the pressure off of him to answer the texts, and even gives a better picture to the users of what to expect before they go to the location.

Chris tells the Tripod, “Howl is a social nightlife application that connects users to real time socially generated data about what’s going on around you. It aims to revolutionize the way people go out. On the app, you create your own profile, and fill out questions regarding what kind of bar you like. Once you finish the questionnaire, a list of bars appears on your newsfeed showing you bars near you that meet all of the criteria.” He and his sister figured that everyone likes a different bar, so they want to connect you to the bar that best suits you, and the one you will have the best time at.

If you’re trying to figure out how a certain bar will be, look it up! Howl will give you real time user generated information about the bar including a picture, cost of cover charge will be, length of the line is, the noise level of the bar is, the girl to guy ratio is, and the overall vibe of the bar is. As stated previously, all of the information is user generated. Club promoters and bar owners will not be skewing a user’s view of the information about the bar. The app leaves no speculation about  what you’ll experience during your night out, and prepares you for your night ahead.

When going out, everyone wants the ability to easily communicate with their group of friends. The app has the group-messaging feature allowing you to talk to everyone about where you want to go, and other things that will prepare yourself for your night out. If you lose your friends on your night out, like most people do, use the map to locate your friends. This helps people stay together and be safe while conquering the city.

Chris’s favorite feature of the app is the point system, which brings a game aspect into the app. The more you use the app, the more points you rack up. You can also compete with your friends to earn the most points your groups. If you’re constantly on the app and earn enough points, you become the “alpha dog of the city!” Down the line, Chris hopes to bring rewards to people that have earned a multitude of points, such as discounts at bars or ways to skip the line.

The Howl app is currently still in beta, but is aiming to be released on May 5th, 2016. The app will only  be available to iPhone users, since iOS was the logical first build for the company; however, the app will eventually be available to Android users as well. I personally cannot wait to be able to use this app during my summer in New York City and look forward to seeing Chris and Becky’s success.

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