New website tracks Boston club scene

by Laura Finaldi, News Correspondent

Stuck in Boston over Thanksgiving break in 2008, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students Kayvan Zainabadi and Shahriar Khushrushahi were frustrated when the empty city did not satisfy their need to party. The frequent clubgoers were disappointed when the clubs they tried out were not to their satisfaction.
It was then they had the idea to create a website that would allow clubgoers to check and receive up to date information about certain clubs, depending on the night. After more than a year of preparation and designing, Zainabadi and Khushrushahi created Instantnightlife.com. The site has everything from how long the line is, how much drinks cost, the guy to girl ratio, how crowded it is, the type of crowd, and even what kind of music is playing.
Zainabadi said the website is already closing in on 10,000 visitors since its Feb. 5 launch. Right now, he said, the site’s team is focusing on “building a relationship between clubs and clubgoers.” The site is currently focused on Boston’s major clubs in the Theater District, but hopes to eventually expand to Harvard and Faneuil Hall area clubs.
“We realized the most useful place where we could provide updates were the most popular destinations that everybody flocks to,” Zainabadi said. “We’re starting small, testing the idea before we expand. We’re trying to figure out what people like and what people don’t like – get feedback from users.”
Zainabadi said they tried to make the website “as simple as possible” so it’s easy for people to get to the information they need. The site’s presentation is simple, and Zainabadi said this is to make sure users can access the information quickly.
“What really is unique about this idea is we actually tell you right then and there. Go on your website, computer or iPhone and check how the club is going to be,” he said. “You know right then and there that it is good, that it will be to your satisfaction.”
Zainabadi said the team ensures the site’s accuracy by paying people to go out to the clubs and check out what is going on. Those people then relay this information back to others who will update the site almost on the minute, ensuring almost total accuracy.
Zainabadi said the clubs do not pay Instantnightlife.com to endorse them or exaggerate how good it is on a given night. He said the people the website hires to report back on how the clubs are have no reason to exaggerate and therefore the information on the site is accurate.
“We just tell you facts about what’s going on, how busy it is, and you decide if you like it,” he said. “We are investing a lot of money on resources ensuring that data we post on the website is accurate.”
Khushrushahi said he thinks the site will ultimately be successful because it came out at the right time. He said like YouTube, which came out right when webcams were starting to gain popularity, Instantnightlife.com will become successful because it is out at the time of the smart phone.
“[The site] is made to be simple so it can be loaded on the smartphone,” he said.
Zainabadi agreed and pointed out the increasing importance of smartphone-friendly websites.
“Right now almost 20 percent of people have smartphones, mostly concentrated within the young population,” he said. “Smartphones are common. People are getting used to Facebook status updates and Twitter – the fact that you can access the site while you’re already out or even while you’re in the cab is going to be helpful.”
The site’s creators are currently working on an iPhone application which should be available within a month, Zainabadi said. After the application is created, Khushrushahi said they will be giving the website a little bit of a makeover, so it looks a little prettier but will still load quickly on the iPhone.
The site’s creators hope to expand its repertoire past Boston and to other major cities such as Los Angeles, New York City and Miami; but for now, Zainabadi said, they are just focusing on expanding one step at a time.
“We’re hoping that by starting small, using a minimalist approach will eventually be to our advantage,” he said.