Entrepreneur Spotlight: "It's Howl you go out" with Becky Cowie from Howl Mobile
2017 is in full swing and this year, we're resolving to never have to deal with another crushing line at the bar, empty dance floors or questionable characters when we go out. The best part is that we don't need to rely on our inner optimists to achieve this. Meet Becky Cowie, co-founder of Boston-based outing app Howl. Howl is your one-stop personal guide to planning your next outing. Tired of standing in line, paying crazy cover charges and wrangling your friends? Leave your FOMO at home and discover new bars, locate your friends and even earn points all through an interactive platform.
Your whole city is in the palm of your hand. Becky explains HOWL you can plan your next night out in our interview below.
Tell us about Howl
Howl is your wingman for going out. Our social mobile app leverages the power of the masses to provide user-generated data into any given city’s nightlife.
A few of our main features include the Upload/Find Portal, Howl Feed, Discover Mode, Map Feature, and Scoreboard. I’ll go into a bit more detail on what each of these are as well.
The Upload/Find Portal is a new highlight feature within which you can help other Howlers and show off what you’re up to. A photo and a few quick slides provides other people with information on where you are so they can make an informed decision. The Find feature helps you find bars in your immediate vicinity based on profile settings and lets you apply filters depending on what you’re looking for.
The Howl Feed allows users to follow their friends along on their nights out, all while easily connecting you with the people who matter to you the most. Think ‘Facebook timeline but only focusing on your night/brunch/afternoon social life’.
The Discover Mode uses visuals only to show you the bar scene in your immediate vicinity. We feel as though many people are driven to make decisions based upon on what they see rather than a name or reputation. This feature allows users to break out of their comfort zone, find new localized bars and spontaneously plan a night out.
Our Map Feature allows you to see where your friends are in the city. The map is interactive, so you can click through to a friends profile to look further and even initiate a chat. This feature will also showcase nightly/hourly deals and specials at certain bars to create a game-like interaction for Howlers.
Finally, the Scoreboard allows users to accrue points for submitting to the Howl community in a competition for achieving "Alpha" rank in their city. We believe that a little friendly competition is a good thing.
All in all, the nightlife scene is currently plagued with a mystery of potentially empty bars, high cover charges, long lines & everything in between. We know there’s a better way to utilize technology to improve your night out and are ready to introduce Howl and make an impact.
What was your background prior to founding Howl?
On a personal level, my family and friends refer to me as “The Great Communicator”. I’ve always racked up phone bills with text overages and talked to anyone who would welcome my gift of the gab. Simply put, I love people and our team at Howl believes that your night out is only as good as the people that you spend it with.
Prior to starting Howl, I worked for two Boston-based start-up companies focusing my attention and expanding my expertise in Marketing, Client Relations and Brand Development. I quickly realized during that time that I did not want to work towards other people’s dreams, but rather sought to fulfill my own. I identified a niche space in the outdated nightlife industry to introduce a disruptive technology and took advantage of that, and a year later, Howl came to its infancy.
What was the tipping point that led you to entrepreneurship?
I grew up surrounded by entrepreneurship and as a result, the thirst to create something that I could proudly call my own has been present for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my brother, now co-founder, and I tossed ideas back and forth and talked about everyday tasks and how we could make them better.
At the time of Howl’s infancy, I was living thirty minutes outside of the city so going into town for a night out was a commitment. I was constantly left wondering why there was no way to see how a bar is before driving in and why there was no streamlined way to communicate and finalize plans with my friends.
I was lucky enough to live with seven of my best friends in college. The nature of that experience has expanded my friend group more than I had ever imagined, resulting in a thousand group chats and plans always being up in the air. While we all love going out, the definition of a great bar is different for each of us. I wanted to create something that not only helped my social life become more streamlined, but also everyone who was dealing with the same frustrations that I was.
What roadblocks did you overcome to reach the point that you are at today?
We’ve been developing Howl for a little over a year and we have learned more in that time than I would have ever imagined. The biggest roadblock that we ran into had to do with our decision to delay our official V1 launch which was set for July 2016.
After strenuous beta testing and a soft V1 launch, we decided to pursue our V2 development to incorporate a new suite of functionalities based off of user feedback. As a team, we knew that an app of our nature requires a solid social and viral aspect in order to gain proper traction. We’ve been in V2 development now for a little over six months and feel extremely confident in the features and the final product we’re bringing to market in the next few weeks.
How would you define success in terms of entrepreneurship?
This is actually a question that I ask myself frequently and to be honest, it’s difficult to put my finger on one definition. The wonderful thing about being an entrepreneur is that you are driving and defining your own success. I know that Howl is my brainchild and I, alongside with my co-founders, are creating something that we are immensely proud of and eager to use ourselves. I’ve always believed that success comes from a person’s individual desire to make themselves proud first and hopefully others along the way. But to me, in relation to what we’re creating with Howl, it all comes down to knowing that we’re helping people and if we can continue to optimize, innovate and upgrade people’s lives, then that to me is success.
What are your plans for the future?
Well, our top priority is to get Howl off the ground and in as many people’s hands as possible. From there, we will continue to revamp and upgrade based on feedback and market trends. That’s the short term plan. But, the long term plan for Howl is to be everyone’s go-to wingman for their night out. It’s said that once you catch the entrepreneurial bug it’s in you for life, so who knows, maybe I’ll start brainstorming my next project. But until then, our focus is on Howl and bringing the best possible product to the market.
Do you have any advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs?
Don’t wait, just do it, especially if it’s something that will solve one of your own problems. No one but you can or will make your dreams come to life. There are always people who will doubt you, and my advice is to use that as motivation to prove them wrong. There is nothing more rewarding than making yourself and your doubters proud of your work. And lastly, if you do decide to take the leap and end up running into a wall, it’s okay to ask for help and advice from those who have done it before. I have to say that I was and continue to be humbled by the amount of people who actively want to help and offer advice to myself and my co-founders.