You go out with your friends for many different occasions, but how often do you find yourself going to the same places? Not that there’s anything wrong with a little loyalty, but you want to try out new places every so often and Chuz is the app you need to start taking advantage of. Simply pick a mood, check out whom else is there and have a blast in a new environment. The Chuz platform covers any spot you may want to check out whether it’s a concert, restaurant, bar or hidden coffee shop; pretty much it makes sure you have a good time.
LA TechWatch chatted with CEO and founder Eirini Schlosser and got some information from the inside about how the company is spreading itself out across the country.
Tell us about the product or service.
Chuz is a mobile app that provides a curated guide of local hot spots suited for any mood and proximity. We developed Chuz to disrupt a market that has been dominated for years by products built for an older generation. Baby boomers and Gen X are comfortable viewing a mass catalog of options, valuing the time spent in doing their own research and making a decision. Millennials and Gen Z are slightly conflicted. They prefer to have options but want those choices already refined or curated by trusted sources. With that in mind, Chuz is a curation of restaurants, bars, cafes, museums and more, refined and internally vetted by industry experts, hospitality insiders, bloggers and local influencers.
How is it different?
We cover a wide-range of spots that are geared towards the millennial lifestyle. While other apps are limited to either bar or restaurant discovery, forcing the user to toggle between various options, Chuz is the one-stop shop allowing you to discover bars, restaurants, museums and nightlife within a single interface. The spots are further broken down based on moods including late night munching, tequila and tacos, rooftops, clubs and shenanigans. We see roughly equal interest between the categories, making it is very easy for users to utilize Chuz on a daily basis for all of their social planning.
Our platform does not boast any sponsored content or biased reviews for the spot descriptions, creating trust with the users as there are no incentives leveraged by the spots themselves.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We are attacking the market of urban millennials, which is obviously quite large. We are expanding with larger cities that have curation opportunities (enough variation in spots to choose from) in addition to a high millennial population. We’ve seen the highest usage from users between the age of 25 and 35 who have a disposable income to try out new spots. The important question is how quickly we can capture multiple markets while maintaining quality standards. We’ve seen that initial discovery of information available through blogs and online content combined with recruiting of local influencers to refine choices in addition to quality checks by our internal team, allows us to quickly build out many cities within a short period of time.
What is the business model?
Part of what differentiates us is that Chuz is not commercial with regards to users themselves. Rather than trying to sell users a product or service, Chuz’s core proposition is to offer a completely free platform. The way we plan to generate revenue involves additional app features that incorporate user interactions with brands while at spots. The nature of these features is to ease certain pain points of users (waiting at bars for drinks, waiting for bills, waiting to get in, etc.). However, we don’t need to make commission fees, as we can capitalize off of understanding users’ preferences for brands, spending habits and taste in foods. Everything goes back to making the users’ lives easier and being an integral part of their daily social life.
Localized reviews have been tried before – what makes your platform the one that will stand out?
Chuz stands out first and foremost because of the curated, quality content, and then because of its easy to use interface and the efficiency it provides for the user. Chuz is known for its spots, which are internally curated for consistent quality that users can trust. Instead of a laundry list of all spots available, Chuz generates its own reviews and doesn’t take a fee from the spots. We provide unbiased spot discovery based on internal quality controls and refining from multiple industry sources.
Tell us a little about your background and what inspired the business?
I previously worked in Mergers & Acquisitions at Morgan Stanley. Though an incredible opportunity to learn in depth about operations and growth prospects of companies across all industries, my learning curve started to plateau. I love problem solving and challenges so I began craving opportunities to create value rather than assess value. The idea of Chuz came to me because it was always difficult to find a good spot and arrange plans quickly with my friends. Many young professionals have a spontaneous and unpredictable work schedule, and when they find themselves available to go out, they want to find a good spot near them immediately. The ability to trust in the quality of those spots is something that other apps had not captured. So we set out to develop Chuz.
Tell us what building your company in LA has been like?
Los Angeles has been excellent. The entrepreneurial ecosystem is still ripe and comparably unsaturated making it easier to get people’s attention when working on something interesting. Compared with San Francisco and New York, Los Angeles is a bit more exciting in my opinion because Silicon Beach is just budding and I’m really happy to have my team in on this action.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We plan to be fully launched in another four to five cities, obtain partnerships with companies who have complementary businesses and grow our active user base while tweaking and updating the app features. Ideally, I would love to have a partnership with a tech hospitality group who has complementary target markets to our own. For example, partnering with OpenTable, HotelTonight or even social dating apps would be ideal in catching the user when they need us.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the community who would it be and why?
I would love to get in touch with Greycroft. I think other consumer businesses they’ve invested in are complementary to ours. They also have a great focus on investing in female entrepreneurs and both myself and my co-founder are women in tech.
What does being “Made in LA” mean to you and your company?
The beauty of Chuz is that it is an integral part of urban life. It involves people enjoying food, drink, music, and art at local businesses. As a result, we feel that we are not only adding healthy competition to an industry that nationally has been dominated by select players, but we are supporting local businesses and an avid “foodie” culture in our own neighborhoods. To launch here is an incredible opportunity to be a part of a new ecosystem as it starts to grow. Especially in the US, there aren’t many opportunities like this. There’s been a lot of success in Silicon Valley and New York City, and I’m ready for the challenge of doing it from LA.
What else can be done to promote early stage entrepreneurship in Los Angeles?
I think what would be very helpful is the addition of more accelerators and involvement by early stage investors. The strategy of many angel investors is to invest in more stable companies that have profitability in early stages. VC’s have a much more open focus on user growth and market capture, however, they are generally not writing checks less than $2-3 million. Hence, it is easy for many startups to fall into the crack between these strategies and face difficulties raising the funds they need early on. I think if angels and high net worth individuals focused more on investing in start-ups with a strategy for market growth potential and/or if VC’s tapped into seed funds more, it would be more conducive to the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Many start-ups who now succeed are those who succeeded in the past. This is not necessarily because they are the only ones good at building businesses (though many are), but more so because they have access to funding. If it is your first business that you’re raising funds for, it is extremely difficult to break into this cycle.
Do you prefer hiking or surfing in LA?
I love surfing. I picked it up last year and found it very consistent with the entrepreneurial mentality in that sometimes you get momentum and a wave just knocks you down, but the only thing you can do is keep getting back up for more.