Roughly a year and a half after its founding in New Haven, Roammeo is spreading to new cities.
After winning the 2011 Yale College Council App Challenge and the 2012 Yale Venture Challenge, the mobile application, which originally allowed users in New Haven to find local events using their smartphones, went on to become a finalist in this summer’s MassChallenge, a nonprofit startup accelerator. With the help of MassChallenge’s office space and startup mentorship, the students expanded the app to service the Boston area and tweaked its current interface to become more customizable. Jessica Cole ’12, Roammeo co-founder and CEO, said the group is continuing to modify the app based on user feedback and currently working to expand its service to either New York or Washington, D.C.
“We had the feeling that rather than another really sexy nightlife app, what students needed was actually a complex search engine that would present them with all the events that were going on nearby,” Cole said.
The updated app, to be released in the Apple Store by early next week, will contain several new interactive features along with a complete redesign. Though the Map View portion of Roammeo currently allows users to find nearby events, a new Trending View page will rank local events using ratings generated by users.
The current Discover feature, which generates random suggestions for events to attend, will gain an Explore View feature that will allow app users to give random events a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to create a sense of “Pandora-style discovery,” said Cole.
“Now as you’re browsing [with Explore View] you’re telling us what your tastes are so we can help you better find what you might be interested in the future,” Cole said.
Cole said she and the other Roammeo developers hope to further their new emphasis on “being really responsive to how people interact with the app.” She said the app’s expansion to Boston made the group realize that they needed to focus on presenting relevant information, not just a large volume of events.
Later versions of Roammeo may also allow individuals and organizations to upload events to Roammeo directly from mobile devices, not just via the website, Cole said. She added that the group is currently working on launching partnerships with other colleges in Boston.
The Roammeo team currently consists of Cole, Avery Faller ’11 and Kartik Venkatraman ’13 and includes two interns. Cole said Roammeo hopes to add more developers and staff as the project continues to grow.
Traffic to Yale Roammeo has indicated that as many as two-thirds of Yale students currently use the app, according to Cole, and 90 percent of incoming students used the app during Orientation and Bulldog Days.
Five of 15 students interviewed said they downloaded the app, and three of the five said they continued to use the app after Orientation and Bulldog Days.
Candice Gurbatri ’14 said that she has used the app to find Master’s Teas or events in West Campus in which she is interested.
“During Camp Yale, no one really know what’s going on or where things are, so [Roammeo] really helped,” Juli Cho ’15 said. “But I remember I kept running into events I wasn’t interested in, and it seemed like I had to go through a lot of events at the Peabody or off-campus before I found something I wanted. … A more individual approach would definitely help me.”
Though the updated app will only be available for iPhones, the old version of Roammeo will continue to be available online and for Androids.
Correction: Nov. 29
A previous version of this article misidentified the Roammeo team members.