Now On Tap: Apps As Discovery Platforms For Bars


Bar and event venues face a dilemma when it comes to finding customers: while social media helps them get discovered, there is a potential downside to using these platforms. “People don’t really see that unless they know you and they follow your restaurant or venue,” Konnect CEO and Co-Founder Matt Hamilton told in an interview.

The Konnect app, which features bars and clubs on an integrated map, serves as a discovery platform to help these venues showcase their spaces. And, for consumers, the app provides them instant access to the information they would want to know on a Friday or Saturday night — along with some of the more informal bar occasions like Taco Tuesdays. For travelers, too, the idea is to help them find a bar without having to spend hours scrolling through the web.

Hamilton created the concept for the app out of his own experiences: he spent a lot of time with friends going to  bars, but they struggled to find a place that had good (and inexpensive) drinks. They found find themselves going into different places and not being satisfied with the experiences — or worse yet, encountering surprise cover charges. And, since developing the concept, Hamilton has discovered that the app has many use cases.

For instance, he noted that the app could appeal to college students who might transfer to a new college and not know the local hotspots. In addition, businesspeople could use the app on their travels. He also noted that his parents could find the app useful as well: they were looking for a bar while on a trip, and they asked their rideshare driver for a recommendation. The driver ended up taking them to a hole-in-the-wall bar. But the establishment didn’t fit the bill, so they decided to drive somewhere else instead.

The Platform

Hamilton said he looks for bars that have a fun and relaxing environment for his platforms — and that, of course, have good prices for drinks. In addition, he seeks establishments that have entertainment, such as a band or a DJ. As it stands, the platform already offers some country bars, and he’s starting to see more rural bars on the platform. These venues, in particular, may be overlooked by many consumers but might have great promotions.

To get started on the platform, bars can click on a black pin on the app’s map and then tap a button to claim their businesses. Once they set up their profiles, the black pin will turn to a blue swoosh — like the company’s logo — to get the attention of consumers browsing through the app. In order to have this listing, Hamilton charges businesses a monthly or annual fee.

Going forward, Hamilton hopes to include to expand the app’s features to include drink specials for users. In addition, he is looking to have a premium membership to help bars get extra exposure on the platform. He is also working on an app update for bars and restaurants that will give consumers a push notification if they walk by a phone or a restaurant that has specials.

For now, Konnect has venues spread out across the country from Ohio to Texas and California, along with some venues in Arizona and Las Vegas. (The app has many venues in the Washington, D.C. area as the company is based there.) But Hamilton is looking to expand his service to college campuses, and is looking to have brand ambassadors help with his outreach as he seeks to grow a platform to connect bar-goers looking for a night out on the town with the perfect venue.