East Village Entrepreneur Creates App to Help New Yorkers Find Drinks

By Gustavo Solis on May 11, 2014 10:17am 

MANHATTAN — Never wander the city looking for your favorite craft beer again.

Shindig, a free app designed by East Village resident Harry Raymond, connects users to a global drink explorers club with details on where to find 75,000 drinks at venues all across the world. The database has everything from a spiced Bloody Mary to McSorley’s dark lager.

“New Yorkers in particular love going out and trying new things and there’s a real explorer or live-life-to-the-fullest attitude,” Raymond said. “There's something about this community that gets people excited.”

Raymond, 25, soft-launched Shindig last summer after getting the idea during a night out at Frank in the East Village.

A waiter handed him the drink list, but he had no idea what to order. He loved trying out new drinks but had a hard time remembering which ones he liked — especially after having multiple glasses — so he settled for the second cheapest bottle, he said.

“When we talked to drinkers, they told us they get new drink ideas from friends and bartenders,” he said.

So, he decided to try recreating that social interaction with a phone app.

Shindig, which was rereleased two weeks ago with a new design, is like Twitter in that you follow people and they follow you back. It’s also like Instagram in that you take pictures of your favorite drinks and bars.

One of the most useful features is a map that crowdsources data from users to locate signature drinks and unique bars. Raymond recently used the app to find a speakeasy in the East Village.

“You have to go into a phone booth and pick up the phone to get in,” Raymond said of the secret spot near East 7th Street and Avenue A. “There are no signs or markings at the door. It had really good cocktails.”

Some of the other bars he has discovered are Top Hops Beer Shop on the Lower East Side and The Winslow in the East Village.

Although people in Brazil, China, France and the United Kingdom use the app, most of its thousands of users come from New York City. The most active users are in the East Village, Lower East Side, Murray Hill and Williamsburg, Raymond said.

Shindig started as a hobby but Raymond recently quit his job running a social media marketing and website design business to develop the app full time. In September 2013, he won $45,000 at a Google and Microsoft pitch event.

The app is currently only available for iPhone, but Raymond recently launched a Kickstarter to raise money to develop an Android app. As of Friday, he had raised more than $12,000 of his $18,000 goal.

There is currently no advertising or sponsored content on the app but Raymond hopes to eventually make money by teaming up with local liquor stores, craft brands and delivery services, he said.

Shindig originally caught on with bartenders and home brewers looking to promote their drinks, Raymond said, adding that the number of users has increased since the redesign.

“Every weekend seems to be bigger than the last,” Raymond said. “We are also seeing a big spike in activity on Monday and Tuesday mornings. I don’t think it means people are drinking then — I think they are reliving their weekend.”

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