Brizeo, the new and upcoming app that all college students will want. The President and Co-Founder, Joshua Adler, sat down with me for an interview. He answered some questions about his app in the works. Being launched within a month, I thought we could start to get the word out now. This app is social based and helps you meet people outside your typical and pre-existing friend groups. Read about Joshua’s experience with creating a startup and learn more about the app and its core purpose.
Madison: Hello Joshua! So to start, as of right now, how are you feeling about your app?
Joshua: I’m feeling really good about the app. Everyone that we have spoken to has had positive feedback and said that it’s either something that they wished they had when they were traveling last semester or something they plan to use once we launch. I receive a few resumes a week from jobs applicants. Their cover letters are very inspiring.
So exactly what is BRIZEO? What is its purpose?
Brizeo is a new social app to meet and connect with people based on interests and activities at home and abroad. Brizeo allows you to make connections anywhere in the world, post pictures and videos, chat, and invite your friends to the app.
Brizeo is more than just matching. It is a hip hub, which allows you to post experiences. It streamlines your life and facilitates growth across all areas: personal, business, and lifestyle.
The purpose is to meet new people outside or your pre-existing network, without the negative stereotypes.
How did you come up with this idea?
I am fortunate that I am able to travel often and extensively. I was in Croatia last summer with my friend David. David and I have traveled throughout South America, Asia, and Europe together on many occasions. We realized that a lot of people, both locals and other travelers, were using dating apps such as Tinder to meet people.
What was interesting is that most of the people using Tinder were not interested in a date per se. One person wanted to find another guy for their boat during yacht week. Another person was traveling with her friend and thought it would be fun to have a group dinner with a bunch of people. Another person was leaving to go to another city and wanted advice or contacts once she arrived.
More often than not, even though you might “match” with someone, it was very difficult to actually meet. This was largely due to the fact that because the platform of communication was a dating app, there is an inherent preconceived notion and negative stereotype associated with it. David and I wanted to create that right platform that is not a dating app, but has the same user experience, familiarity, and functionality of other social apps in the market.
Is this app only in the states or international too?
The app is worldwide! Once you log in, it will default to your current location and you can search up to 100 miles in distance. However, you can easily change your search location and be discoverable to anyone else in any other city. This is a great feature if you are planning a trip and want some advice or want to find someone to travel with.
For example, if you are in New York and know that you have an upcoming trip to Paris next month, you can change your search criteria to Paris, France and try to match with someone there. Additionally, if someone is in London and also planning to go to Paris, that person can search there as well. Despite that fact that both of you are in different cities currently, you have the ability to match and connect with each other. You can then plan to do some activities together or share some travel related costs.
Who are you marketing to? When you think about who your users will be, who do you picture?
I think that this app has broad appeal across many different demographics. However, we can segment our users in to different age ranges and functions.
We have many college students working for us as part of our grass roots marketing campaign in the 18-23-year-old age range. A majority of them plan to study abroad and then travel after the semester. Additionally, many of them have expressed a desire to meet other students on campus for things such as sports activities or study groups. This is the first target group of users since they are the demographic that is the most prolific mobile app user and can help it go viral quickly.
The second group are post-college working professionals in the 24-30 age range. They might take a few trips a year and would look to meet locals for a deeper cultural experience or find a group to party with. Moreover, because they are working and have less free time than they did in college, they can use the app in their current city to make new friends and find a group for other social activities. Because the algorithm of the app will match you based on your interest selection, you already know that you have something in common with the other person. We also have a “Networking/Business” interest category. We thought this would be useful in case you are at a conference and want to connect with someone outside of the lecture.
Last but not least, when I designed it I thought of my parents. They have been married for over 40 years. I know that they are very comfortable in their relationship and would welcome the opportunity to have dinner with or meet another couple when they are on a cruise or going abroad. Additionally, my mom goes on a lot of yoga retreats by herself. I thought it would be great if she could connect with other people on the program either before or during her trip.
What makes your application different than other "meet people apps"?
That’s a great question. We tried to think of which features people like and are popular on other apps and combine them into one. As I mentioned before, Brizeo will match you based on interest categories. We hope that this will provide for less superficial and more substantive matches. We also have the ability to upload short videos directly to the app. This is a unique feature that also serves as a verification process that the person is who they say they are. We also have a “Moments” wall where people can upload their favorite travel pictures. Anyone from around the world can “like” your picture and then click the avatar that links to your profile. They can try to match with you that way and expand the community.
Which category do you think people will be checking the most in the "interest" panel?
It’s hard to say. The point of the app is that we don’t want it to be static environment. We want the users to be engaged and interested in different things at different intervals of time. Having said that, I imagine that most people will always be interested in either drinks or dinner. Second to that, probably touring and excursions. We will know soon enough once we analyze the data and iterate the app.
Creating an app is a lot of work, what has the process been like and roughly how much time did it take?
There are many different emotions and experiences you have on a weekly or even daily basis when you start a new business and try to launch a new product. End users who will eventually download the app only see the finished product. But there have been months and literally thousands of hours spent on the back-end of the business. I can honestly tell you that my average working day is 13-14 hours. But even when you are not actually working on it, you are constantly thinking about it. So the day never really ends.
A majority of your time is spent researching, reading information, establishing relationships, and talking to people. I think it took about two months just to decide on the name of the app, and then additional time and expense to register for its trademark, design the logo, and the marketing campaign behind it.
The actual development of the app has taken a lot longer than expected. This is partly a result of constant iteration. It is hard to know if you will like the layout/interface or experience of the app until you test it. We have had to redesign many features as we evolve and implement outside feedback. We started development in September 2015. All things considered, I think that we were able to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time relative to the average development cycle.
Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur? Also do you have a partner(s)?
I do consider myself an entrepreneur. I recognized an identifiable problem and thought of a way to solve it. I decided to quit my job in banking and pursue something that was more fulfilling and more tangible to me. However, there is no safety net when you quit a job to pursue a new endeavor and invest your own money. There is no guarantee that it will work. You have to really believe in it like you’ve never believed in anything else before. These are some of the traits that I think define an entrepreneur.
Yes, I have a co-founder, David, that I mentioned before. He feels the same way as I do.
As students we are constantly thinking creatively and trying to find the next big thing. What advice do you have for students that are entering the competitive job market?
I think the job market is a lot different than it was when I graduated. I think that it is much more competitive now. This is a result of both an influx of qualified international students, as well as more experienced workers being downsized by their companies and competing for more junior or entry level positions that traditionally went to recent college graduates.
Students need to be more prepared and come in with more readily deployable skills to add value immediately. Companies don’t have the time or budget just to “train” recent college graduate students before they leave for their MBA or something better. There will always be a learning curve, and one of the biggest skills is attention to detail. It’s OK if you don’t know how to do something. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance. Most managers will only show you something once though. Make sure you take proper notes and learn on your own time. Don’t be impatient either. Everyone wants instant gratification these days, but it takes time to build trust. And last, you have to enjoy what you do. You won’t enjoy every hour or every day of your job. However, you should look forward to what you do and find intangible value in it. If not, find another job or career.