Do you ever wish you could know how a bar or club is going to be when making plans? Yule is social nightlife app that is looking to solve that problem. Yule’s three founders Jonathan Richter (CEO), Chris Waterbury (Head of Technology), and Kirk Riley (CFO) have been lifelong friends (they met when they were 6) and came up with the solution a year ago when faced with this issue. These founders are dedicated to making Yule a consumer-focused and easy to use app. Their backgrounds (ranging from ethnomusicology to physics and biology to sociology, respectively) offer them a unique perspective. Yule’s beta testing begins next month and a full product launch is scheduled for this fall.
What’s the story of Yule?
We were sitting in a bar that was dead after debating where to go out for hours. We picked the wrong place and we said, “I wish there was an app that could have told us not to come here.” It’s ridiculous to not be able to open my phone and tell if it’s worth it to go just around the corner or next door to see how that bar is.
It was realizing that we have the technology available—everyone’s on their phones all the time. It seemed strange that you can’t tell the condition of a venue before arriving. It seemed like something that should already be around, but it’s not.
We researched and we saw that a lot of the nightlife apps and the other apps in our space are from the venue perspective. They come across as more promotional—here’s our event, maybe they have some specials—where they focus more on advertising or crowd statistics. Or, it’s permanent review-based like Yelp, so why should a 2 or 3 year old review effect the current state of the business. Not so much up-to-the-minute updates on what it looks like at that moment.
We started doing more business and we decided we had a unique idea here. It’s about the user experience. This is a social media platform where you can connect and figure out where you want to go out because every night you have the same problems and questions when you want to go out.
How did you become entrepreneurs?
Jonathan Richter: We were all at a turning point in our lives. I just finished my Masters degree at the University of Hawaii in ethnomusicology and did a year of Fulbright research on a disappearing music tradition on an ethnic minority group in South China. I had this really specific and unique experience, so coming back from that and jumping straight into a PhD program was not very appealing. Trying to get a 9 to 5 office job was not it either. I was contemplating going back to China or applying for jobs here, but it was perfect timing when we came up with the idea. We’ve know each other since we were 6 years old, and there’s no one else I would rather pair up with on this venture.
Kirk Riley: Right now in my life, I’m an aspiring stunt performer. I’m a stand-in and I work on The Walking Dead, but I’m privately contracted and I don’t have to be there every day. I’m at the place in my life where I can help with the marketing and creating Yule.
Chris Waterbury: I’ve always worked on my own projects since I was in high school all the way through my own research. They would just put me on my own little projects in school and I started my own projects for my dad’s company. I’ve always been something of an entrepreneur and we came up with the idea for Yule.
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The Author: Kristine Santos. Entrepreneur. Anthropologist. Writer. Runs social media and blogging for Atlanta-based startup PEAR’d, a virtual collaboration ecosystem for entrepreneurs. A vegetarian who’s learning how to sew and wants to know all about your startup. Let’s talk on Twitter@PEARdUP