BarLift aims to improve students’ experiences at bars


Source: BarLift screenshot

BarLift displays a list of local discounts in Evanston and Chicago bars. The application, created by Northwestern students, launched its second version this week.

Alice Yin, Development and Recruitment Editor

A team of Northwestern students is bringing barhopping to students’ smartphones.

BarLift, an Apple and Android application, launched its second version Monday morning. The developers, a group of NU students, timed the release with its NU Bar Week, a series of daily discounts at nearby bars and pubs beginning Monday night. Students will receive real-time updates of bar deals and of their friends’ plans each night through the app.

BarLift currently has almost 1,800 downloads as of Monday evening, said the creator, Dom Wong (Weinberg ’14). BarLift hopes to expand its reach to other colleges soon, he said.

For students with the application turned on, BarLift will send push notifications this week of multiple promotions in various bars in Evanston and Chicago. Users log in through Facebook and can use the application’s “nudge” feature to invite friends to their next destination for the night. They can also RSVP to bars they are interested in stopping by, allowing students to plan their nights, Wong said.

“(Students) make decisions spontaneously,” Wong said. “The idea is to get people to reveal their preferences the given night … That’s supposed to be social mobilization.”

The team has improved the application since its trial version launched during BarLift’s Spring 2014 NU Bar Week, said Shikhar Mohan, one of the application’s developers. BarLift streamlines barhopping for students and provides marketing analytics to bars, including demographics, frequency and peak times.

“There’s a pretty big social factor,” the McCormick junior said. “You want to know who else is going out and you want to go out with your friends. That’s when the most memorable experiences are made.”

The application is launching at DePaul University next week and the team plans to branch out to other campuses in the future, Mohan said.

Nonetheless, the application has a place in NU’s bar scene, said Oskar Melking, a member of BarLift’s marketing team.

“Hopefully it can make people want to go out more,” said Melking, a Communication senior. “We discovered people don’t have a good sense of what deals are going on in Evanston … the other reason is they assume other people don’t want to go out because it’s hard to quickly get a sense of who’s going out.”

The launch week at NU began Monday night at Tommy Nevin’s Pub, 1450 Sherman Ave., featuring the pub’s Monday $3 specials.

“The last couple of years Northwestern students haven’t been coming out as much,” said Brian Davenport, general manager of Nevin’s. “(BarLift is) rebuilding that relationship to come out and have a good time.”

In addition to the daily promotions, BarLift is also adding a competition this week for students to follow a fake persona dubbed “Schorty Mapiro” on the application. Students can add the persona’s Facebook profile and send a nudge to whatever bar they believe “Schorty Mapiro” will be attending that night. Participants will be entered in a raffle for a total of $1,000.

BarLift has been in the works since last spring’s NU Bar Week, when it was presented as a texting service to students. About 700 signed up then, Mohan said. Last quarter, BarLift had an initial launch during Dance Marathon, featuring a competition for an up to $1,000 donation to the team that had the most downloads of the application the week before the event.

Davenport said there was an increase in younger visitors when Nevin’s promoted deals on BarLift in February.

“It’s a cool way to get people to go be in a place together while utilizing the social media aspect that we’re so wrapped up in now,” Davenport said. “It’s a great idea.”

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