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Happy hour app wins top prize at Make it in Brooklyn pitch competition

Runners up included a space-suit maker and a company making shoes more accessible.

Attendees of the 2015 Make It In Brooklyn pitch competition. (Photo courtesy of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership)

Ten entrepreneurs competed against each other on June 25 in Dumbo bar SuperFine. They were there to convince a panel of judges from TechCrunch, Bold Machines, F Cubed and Tanooki Labs that their project had robust legs. Like the event’s name itself, they were there to Make it in Brooklyn.
“Our ultimate goal,” said Vivian Liao, managing director of programs at Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, which organized the competition, “was really about seeding Brooklyn’s next great business.”
First prize went to the smartphone app Happy Any Hour, designed by the company Happy. The application’s users can benefit from extended happy hours at about 140 participating bars in five neighborhoods — the East Village, Lower East Side, Williamsburg, East Williamsburg and Fort Greene. Happy Any Hour shows at any given time which bars offer discounted drinks for the people who have the app on their phone. Once they arrive at the bar, users launch a countdown on their phone and can benefit from the special happy hour for one hour.


Jay Reno, one of Happy’s cofounders, said he wanted the competition’s judges to grasp the two problems his company vows to solve: consumers want drink specials outside of the traditional happy hour window of 4-7 p.m., and “bars and restaurants have to be driving traffic at unpredictable times,” Reno said.
Reno’s project “has potential,” said Jonathan Shieber, one of the judges of the pitch contest. Still, “this sort of work needs a lot of network,” he said, adding that developing that network is nowhere near easy. “Groupon is a good example of a good idea that’s difficult to take off.”
Happy’s Reno said that 6,000 people have downloaded the app so far. It’s already received a fair amount of attention in the press.
By winning the competition, Happy got a $25,000 investment from Bre Pettis, cofounder and former CEO of MakerBot. Reno said this investment will enable the company “to get into more neighborhoods,” and redesign the app to make it more advertising-friendly. Happy plans to provide native advertising space for alcohol brands, Reno said.

Make it in Brooklyn judges

The Make it in Brooklyn judges confer. (Photo courtesy of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership)


Besides Happy, the judges rewarded three other companies: Quikiks, Toilets for People and Final Frontier Design.
Quikiks designs shoes that people can get in and out without having to bend over. Toilets for People is developing a toilet that doesn’t need water to transform the waste into compost. Final Frontier Design — which teamed up with NASA last year — creates space gear, including gloves that are meant to be used on Mars.

Companies: Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
Series: Brooklyn

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