Apps / Startups

This real-time ratings app tells you ‘What’s the vibe?’ of local businesses

VyB is now available for download in the App Store or Google Play store. The cofounders, all current Drexel students, are in the process of raising a seed round for the otherwise bootstrapped startup.

VyB cofounders (L to R) Adit Gupta, Nico Cohen and Mason Cohen with Chief Creative Officer Tom Falzani. (Photo courtesy of VyB)

A trio of students from Drexel University have just launched an app that captures tangible and intangible information about restaurants, coffee shops or other businesses.

What’s the feel in here? How long is the wait? Is it high energy or a somewhere you could hunker down and do some work?

Essentially, cofounder and CEO Adit Gupta, says, “What is the vibe?”

VyB, which is now available for download in the App Store or Google Play store, is a fix for review sites like Yelp, which can get bogged down with fake reviews, and don’t offer any real-time data about a business, Gupta said.

At the PACT Capital Conference last month, Gupta presented the app to prospective investors and others in the tech and entrepreneurial industry. He told them about a time he wanted to go out for ramen, but couldn’t find a place that wasn’t slammed. Google reviews and Yelp weren’t helping steer him in the right direction.

Since then, he and the rest of the VyB team, have “completely bootstrapped our business from the ground up,” he said.

Within the VyB app, a user can look at businesses in the surrounding area, and see what users have said about the spot most recently. Users who have the app will also be prompted by push notifications on their phone to describe the “vibe” of businesses they’re currently in, from quality of the food, type of music playing or if there’s a long wait.

Gupta started work on the concept with cofounders and brothers when he and Mason Cohen were at Drexel, and Nico Cohen was in high school. All three are now current students (Gupta is pursuing his Ph.D.), and Mason Cohen serves as the company’s president, while Nico Cohen is the chief marketing officer.

When they first looked into building an app, they were quoted a price tag of $40,000 by an external development agency.

“So we basically said, we’re going to learn how to code and make the app ourselves,” Gupta said.

The first few lines of code were written in late 2018, and over the next few months, the team received some funds from Amazon Web Services’s Activate program, for which they made a connection at Drexel’s Baiada Institute  for Entrepreneurship.

“There were weeks where I was on a call with an AWS Support engineer in Dublin, India or Australia every morning and they helped with some parts of process step by step,” Gupta said.

(Courtesy image)

About a year later, the team has grown to about 11 employees plus a group of advisors. In late summer, they rolled out the beta version of the app, and in late September, officially dropped it on the app store.

VyB’s business plan includes a subscription model for business: For a monthly fee, businesses can learn more insight and feedback from its customers.

“If there’s someone saying the service is off at a certain Saxbys, management can learn about it and fix it right away,” for instance, Gupta said.

The team is also working on VyB Biz, a premium data dashboard for businesses to learn even more about their customers. They’ll be able to monitor what people are saying, get a better view of analytics and gauge effectiveness of certain ads.

VyB is also in the process of raising a seed round of fundraising to further develop the app and roll it out to more businesses.

For Gupta, this project is a nod to his parents, who ran a restaurant and cared extensively about the experience their guests were having while dining.

“That kind of always stuck with me,” he said.

VyB is now available for for iOS and Android.

Companies: Drexel University

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