A Q&A with Evzdrop co-founder and CEO David Rush. The Chicago–based company was founded in early 2012 and raised $500K in Angel funding in late September.
SUB: Please describe Evzdrop, and the value proposition you offer to consumers.
Rush: Evzdrop is a location-based interest network that lets people stay connected to places in real-time. It’s both a free iPhone app, soon to be on Android, and web platform that allows users to ‘eavesdrop’ on places to gain an insider’s perspective through the people who are there at that moment and posting Drops about what’s going on. Consumers can see what’s going on around them, or at places across the country, in real time.
For businesses, Evzdrop provides a picture of how customers who are actually at the location view their business through data on our client dashboard. The dashboard provides key demographic information for business owners, as well as conversation volume and sentiment. Evzdrop also allows businesses to connect with their customers through custom campaigns that can target users based on demographic, zip code, sentiment toward their business and current location.
SUB: Who are your target users?
Rush: Our target users are millennials, social media fanatics, local influencers and businesses. When we were fleshing out the idea of Evzdrop, we came across a lot of research showing that when making decisions, millennials are actually more influenced by user-generated content and recommendations written by strangers with credibility than by friends and family. That data combined with the common connection of place reinforces the need for a new application like Evzdrop.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Rush: Evzdrop is filling a void in the marketplace, but Yelp, Twitter and Foursquare can be considered our closest competitors.
SUB: What differentiates Evzdrop from the competition?
Rush: Evzdrop brings focus and relevance to the overwhelming amount of content being created on social media and other similar platforms. Our app employs the interest graph as the thread that ties its network together, letting people listen in to the places they care about and opening up a lens of insight well beyond one’s social network. Also, with our geofencing technology, Evzdrop offers more data integrity and real-time value since Drops, or posts, can only come from people verifiably at the place at a specific moment in time. Going further, we’ve built a Stealth function into our app that allows a user to still be heard when they want to Drop anonymously. The number one concern with LBS apps today is privacy. We addressed this concern by giving a person a voice and credibility while allowing them to remain anonymous.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Rush: The company was founded in February 2012, and we started development on the app later that month. We created a scope of work to build the first functional prototype and began building the brand and business strategy in parallel.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Evzdrop? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Rush: The idea for Evzdrop came about when I was dining at a restaurant in New York late last fall. I was enjoying an amazing appetizer special, though the person I was with didn’t like theirs very much. As my friend left to take a call, I thought to myself how valuable it would be to have a platform to broadcast this experience to people coming to eat here later tonight who were specifically interested in what was going on at the restaurant right now. It wasn’t about a review from a week ago. It was about how the night’s special tasted or how long the wait was at the moment or what the scene was like that night. All real-time insight about the place, not about the people. I then realized how important this information would be to businesses. They’d find it invaluable to ‘eavesdrop’ on my thoughts and emotions when they were strongest, while still in the restaurant.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Rush: We came up with the name simply by brainstorming what it was that we were doing and how to best express it. We were essentially letting people listen in to conversations happening at different places. It dawned on me that users would be eavesdropping on places through people and the name Evzdrop just stuck. It’s a bit mysterious and inviting as we all do it, intentionally or unintentionally.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Rush: Really just time. There are simply not enough hours in the day to get done what you want to accomplish if you want to do it and do it right. As anyone who has started a company will attest, there are new things coming at you every day. It’s about prioritization while keeping all the plates spinning.
SUB: You just raised $500K in Angel funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Rush: We intend to grow our team by hiring new talent, and we’re investing further in product development, marketing and PR.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise outside funding?
Rush: I’m not sure that I’m a believer in a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ time to raise money. It’s about the idea, the plan, the team and the potential. Capital is always available for the right team and the right plan. It then becomes about execution, so that’s our focus right now.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Rush: We have plans to monetize our data and analytics and custom business campaigns. We see tremendous opportunities for affiliate marketing revenue and advertising dollars based on the unique personas that are being created through Drops and the different places people choose to listen to on both the app and web platform.
SUB: What are your goals for Evzdrop over the next year or so?
Rush: We want to hit our short-term goals of user adoption and delivering value to businesses. Then, we plan to raise our true Series A round towards the end of this year or early next year to give us the runway to expand into other major markets and build out our team. It’s one day at a time with focused, targeted goals that we’ll continue to set and hopefully achieve week-over-week.
Evzdrop – www.evzdrop.com