Monica Szakacs, News Writer-
The new social network for “you and your closest friends,” Shizzlr.com is the social network that directly answers what’s going on, when and where with the actual “20” friends someone socializes with, according to Keith Bessette and Nick Jaensch, founders of Shizzlr.
“There’s nothing out there that can really paint the entire picture of what’s going on to tell you that there is always parties here, a happy hour, a sporting event there,” said Jaensch. “When you find out that social picture, it gives you so many options to choose from.”
Once someone finds out what is going on, Jaensch said they make a plan, and a plan involves a discussion amongst their closest friends.
“The whole point of Shizzlr,” said Jaensch, “is helping college students to complete the whole picture of the social discovery of what’s around them.”
Jaensch said they wanted to provide everyone with a tool to mass communicate through text messaging to any mobile phone once someone finds out the information of an event.
Bessette said students use Facebook and call and text everyone individually. He said it takes a lot of time to make plans and get all the details, and still some information is mistranslated.
“We can organize the information better, add a little bit more value and add this cool group texting stuff,” said Bessette. “Students add their friend’s number and a text is sent to their phone that so and so has added them as a friend.”
When Shizzlr was in the planning stages, Jaensch and Bessette, University of Connecticut MBA graduates, had the idea of what they wanted the social network to become, but they did not know the name. Jaensch said they tried collegelife, collegebar and anything they thought was relevant.
“It turned out you can’t really register a URL, like a web address with any of these words that make sense, it was just they were all taken,” said Jaensch.
Before trying to get the name for their site, Jaensch said one night they were out in Hartford for some cocktails and Jaensch sent a drunk text, “do shizzlr,” in response to his friend texting him that he had bought a house. Jaensch said he showed Bessette the drunken text for laughs and Bessette wrote down the statement.
“From that point on when one of us is going out, we are like ‘oh yea have a good time, good luck, do shizzlr’ and the name just stuck,” said Jaensch.
He said Shizzlr is the name of the company, website and apps, but they have t-shirts that say “Do Shizzlr,” which they hand out to people who help promote the site or give them feedback on how to improve the site and make it more user-friendly. Bessette and Jaensch said they are working everyday to improve Shizzlr and have engineering interns to help them. Right now privacy is a factor they are working on so people won’t be harassed, said Bessette.
“It really needs to be an opted-in reply,” said Bessette, “So it’s going to be a one text thing where it says you were added, now you have to accept the request to start the conversation.”
For future income, when more people use the site, Bessette said they do have a business model in the works. When students go to bars, clubs and restaurants, Shizzlr and local merchants can see how big a crowd is going to be. Businesses can pay Shizzlr to get that information so they can determine if they’ll need more security, if they should have specials for the night, or if they need to increase advertisement possibly on Shizzlr.
“They can actually see their returns such as a pizza joint, because Shizzlr caters to regions,” said Bessette. “So say if I gave Shizzlr $10 a month and I was able to convince 10 people to go there, then we made $250 off of those people and we made that much more money.”
Bessette said after the second year of their MBA program, him and Jaensch entered the Innovation Accelerator in East Hartford. They were given the opportunity to do research for Shizzlr and validate their project’s objective: answer the question, “what’s going on?” Bessette said they won the Connecticut Innovations, the state’s venture investment agency business competition of $150,000.
“We were like well, alright, we don’t need a job right now, let’s actually make this work,” said Bessette, “So this summer we raised money, then we got some more money in December, total around $350,000, and now we are starting to finally go.”