In Finding Things to Do, Mobile App Uses Calendar for Search
Jan Anton, the CEO of San Diego-based uTemporis, is a little guarded about the genesis of Time to Enjoy, a free, location-based mobile app intended to answer the perennial question, “Is there anything for us to do?”
The app, available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, pulls in data (from San Diego’s Eventful and Tribune Media Services) about concerts, sporting events, movies, conferences, art exhibits, kid’s activities, and millions of other events. What makes it different, Anton says, is that the app transforms a user’s mobile phone calendar into a search engine for events—so the search for something to do begins with the time and date when you’re available. The app links to about 5 million movie showtimes throughout the United States, and more than 1 million other events each month in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe.
Time to Enjoy also uses location-based technology (on all devices except the iPod touch), so users can search for events near their current location or choose any city. The search radius can range from 200 feet to 50 miles; a filter helps users winnow down their personal preferences, and users can share the results with their friends.
“We’re the first to do this type of search,” Anton says. Asked about the genesis of the technology, Anton says the concept came from “one fellow who works for a big Fortune 500 company, and who was instrumental in the app’s design.” (He wouldn’t get any more specific, but my guess is that the guy works at Qualcomm.) Anton and co-founders Brendan Boyd, Paul Gazur, and Ivan Crespo ran with the idea.
The founders incorporated uTemporis in late 2010. (The name is a Latin translation of “time to enjoy.”) They demonstrated an early version of the app in 2011 at TechCrunch NYC and at DEMO in Santa Clara in September, Anton says. “In November we acquired the domain www.timetoenjoy.com.” The Time to Enjoy app officially became available in Apple’s iTunes App Store on March 29, and the official launch followed on April 9. The uTemporis crew is now working to release an Android version by the end of the year.
Loyal Xconomy readers may recall that Anton and Boyd were previously the founders of Onemarketplace.com, a San Diego-based e-commerce platform that enabled users to simultaneously list items for sale on eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, Oodle, OLX, and Vast, sell through classified ads on AOL, Facebook, and MySpace, and promote their listings on Twitter and Facebook.
“We launched OMP in 2009 and did some light marketing for about 6 months,” Anton says. “Based on the usage metrics we decided not to further develop, but the site is still active.”
“It’s a good idea,” Boyd, who was a Onemarketplace co-founder and marketing director. “But if someone wants to sell an old couch, they put it on Craigslist, and if they want to sell something that’s more upscale they put it on eBay. In some ways, we solved a problem that people didn’t really have.”
With Time to Enjoy, the uTemporis founders are facing a different challenge—differentiating themselves in a market crowded with similar apps for finding things to do. The most notable example is “Find Stuff to Do,” a free app from London-based Brian Industries. But the list also includes AroundMe, Where, Localicious, Thrillist, Mezz, Poynt, Eventseeker, Timerazor, and more. For the most part, Anton says, “They are really location-based/category directories, for example, ‘Where is a gas station?’ rather than direct competitors for finding events.”
So what makes Time to Enjoy different?
In an email this morning, Anton writes: “Time to Enjoy is the first app to use a calendar user interface for finding events (patent pending). By tapping on the calendar a user actually provides the search engine with a date, time, location and preferences. No one else—either on the Web or on mobile devices—is doing this type of search. And with that detail, our database of over 6 million monthly events returns a very specific set of relevant results.”
The next step is to go to event providers and have them use the Time to Enjoy platform to spread the word about their events. Among other things, it would give event organizers or promoters a way to search for and connect with people who are looking for events. “What we’re really going for is the next phase that makes this hyperlocal community so neat,” Anton says.
“The revenue model will be a combination of advertising and Groupon-type deals,” Anton says. For example, he says, Time to Enjoy can push coupons for local restaurants to people who are searching for someplace to eat. “There are a lot of different ways we can interact with Groupon revenue.”
For the time being, however, the uTemporis founders are focused on getting users to download and install the app.
“The revenue model will come when we get the installs, and it’s been going pretty well so far,” says Anton, who adds that expanding the user base also will be the key factor in raising capital from investors. So far, uTemporis has been self-funded, with help from the founders’ friends and families.
“We are talking about getting an early round of funding that would be between a friends and family and angel round to get a marketing campaign funded,” Anton says. “We should be able to do that when we get to 100,000 installs. Of course, getting to the first 100,000 installs is harder than getting from 100,000 installs to 1 million.”