Loople Mobile LLC, one of the 6 startups participating in the ETC’s AccelerateBaltimore program, is an app providing user-verified information in real time about what all of the local bars and restaurants are like and what to expect. The app currently serves the Baltimore area, specifically Fells Point, Canton, Federal Hill, and Towson.
We interviewed Philip DiMuro, Founder and CEO of Loople, to learn more about the mobile app and how they are best serving their client base.
1. How did you come up with the name “Loople?”
The name Loople only came as a result of constantly brainstorming to find something that was unique, engaging, and memorable. We thought about what our product did; keeping others in the loop with what was going on in their area. Playing on the word “loop” lead us into discussing how we helped our users, and this reminded us a lot of being like a search engine, similar to Google. By combining these two words we discovered “Loople” and the name stuck immediately!
2. Where do you plan to expand next?
The next stage for our company will be to take what we’ve built here in Baltimore and replicate it in new markets. The first two cities we plan to be in next are Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Both of these cities have unique characteristics for why we want to expand to them next. First, D.C. is an obvious choice because of its proximity to Baltimore and the overabundance of “Happy Hours” in that city. Next would be Philadelphia also because of its similarity to Baltimore. Both the “City of Brotherly Love” and “Charm City” have a very authentic attitude to them that is partially created because of their unique neighborhoods.
3. Tell us about how your idea came to life?
Our founders have known each other since the first few weeks of college. After discovering their similar passions for entrepreneurship, there were countless late nights filled with creative conversations about starting their first businesses. After college our founders continued these discussions which ultimately led to building Loople during their late nights and weekends for nearly 2 years prior to launch. As Loople grew through the stages of concept>design>MVP>Beta, we knew the next step was “launch,” and that was going to take commitment. In the summer of 2015 Dave and Phil both left their full-time jobs to follow their dream of starting a business. With Phil’s background experience in the bar and restaurant industry, and Dave’s marketing and management experience, Loople was created to help solve the problem “what is going on tonight?”
4. What is something people don’t understand about your app? How do you market it out so that they get the right perception of the platform?
The sheer level of data we have about the bar and restaurant industry in Baltimore. Most people understand you can open Loople and find a drink special for cheap, but they underestimate how much we have listed. Today we have over 3,000 local specials from over 2,000 bars and restaurants and we are JUST in Baltimore. If someone wants to find a drink special for wine bottles and outside seating, that can be found in seconds. Conversely, if you want to find a place with a live band that also has a pool table and a craft beer on special, that is easy. Our filter is extremely comprehensive yet fairly underused.
We launched with the mentality of “oh we built this great app that people will use for XYZ” when the reality was we had no idea what “Loople” was until we just got it out there and saw what users did with it. Founders can’t tell the market how to use their product, the market with tell you! Initially, we planned to be a social media platform, and even when we had over 3,000 users, only 3 people had ever taken the steps to build a “group” on our application. So we removed it. We had to be completely okay with saying, “we don’t know everything about our product… but the market does.”
5. What milestones do you hope to achieve in 2016?
Well to start…a lot! June 11th marks our first full year of Loople being in the market. These past months have allowed us to develop countless skills such as marketing a business, listening to users, managing interns, understanding what investors want, and building a product that people truly love. We’ve learnt about some fantastic marketing tools to help get our brand out there. We even ordered some bottled water from https://customwater.com/ and handed them out when we visited trade shows. There are so many great ways to market the business and we can’t wait to explore more options! Each day that goes by we become more excited about the future and where we can take Loople. Major milestones include:
Break 10,000 users by the summertime
Close our first advertising deal on our platform
Raise our seed round of capital
Enter secondary markets
Grow our team by hiring our first full-time employee (not consultant, 1099, or interns)
Embody our vision so our culture is clear to not only ourselves, but also our users, clients, employees and partners