By @SimonCocking

We caught up with Dean Kelly @dean_kelly21 co-Founder at @HeyLetsApp, a social city and travel guide powered by locals and completely positive! (no long negative reviews). Now in over 100 countries!

Describe the company – the elevator pitch ..

HeyLets is a global iphone app in over 100 countries that makes discovering tailored experiences fun, fast, and social. Justin Parfitt (my cofounder) and I launched HeyLets because when we were looking for inspiration about what to do either in our city, or whilst travelling, we were sick of reading long negative reviews written by people we had absolutely nothing in common with.

HeyLets was created on the premise of connecting like-minded individuals. You identify your interests, and, based on your selections and your location and demographic profile, the app generates a custom feed of recommendations – everything from restauraunts and bars to hiking trails and hot springs – from users with similar tastes and expectations.  With the filter feature, you can browse posts anywhere in the world, or in your local city. You can wishlist experiences, book an uber there or buy tickets or book a table. By focusing ONLY on the positives, HeyLets is perfect for mobile – the goal is to tell users where they SHOULD go rather than what they should avoid. HeyLets is being used by celebrities, bloggers, but most of all, people of all ages around the world who love trying new things and sharing great recommendations with a community of like minded individuals.

HeyLets is venture-capital backed, based in San Francisco, and is currently raising its next round of funding.

You can download HeyLets here

How are you different?

At the moment, finding awesome things to do, and searching online, especially on mobile, is a woeful experience. Most review and ratings on crowd sourced platforms invite negativity, and often you find yourself asking “why on earth am I reading this, this person sounds nothing like me!?!”. Also, almost all discovery apps do exactly the same thing – they show you a list of places, they all focus on reviews, and they all have star ratings.

On HeyLets, firstly, we focus on Experiences, not places. An experience is a person’s unique interaction at that place. It is a photo or video, a description of what they are doing and why it is so great, a location, and most important of all, a category. Its not just about food and drinking – HeyLets is across over 250 categories, from hiking to pool parties to boutique hotels!

Secondly, HeyLets is about Recommendations, not reviews. On HeyLets, users share moments when they are thinking “This is awesome, you should try it too”. And, when you are on mobile, you are always looking for something TO DO, and anything telling you what NOT to do, is simply a waste of your time.

Thirdly, HeyLets is about personalisation, not aggregate star ratings. Whilst star ratings might work for products (and this idea started with companies like Amazon), experiences are subjective, and each person will have a different opinion. One person’s 5 star might be another person’s 1 star. On HeyLets, we use Machine learning, as well as your demographic profile, to only show you experiences you are likely to love, shared by users with similar interests and a similar demographic profile.

Finally – HeyLets is social. People use their profile in HeyLets to build their brand, to become experts in particular categories. Unlike other discovery companies out there like Trip Advisor and yelp, on HeyLets, you can see who is sharing the experience, comment, wishlist, and send messages.

In this way, we have made “discovery” 5 times more engaging than other companies out there. People actually love using HeyLets, have fun doing so, and spend hours each day sharing their own experiences, and scrolling through others looking for inspiration. It is not a chore to use, like it is with some other discovery apps out there.

Why will the company / product do well?

The leisure activities and travel market is over $2.7 trillion dollars, and there is no huge company (like Amazon with products or Google with search) connecting consumers to experiences. Trip Advisor is only a $11bn company, and Yelp is much smaller, and shrinking each year in terms of market cap (down 70% this year alone!). Many companies have tried to capture the opportunity, but no one really has – and everyone keeps focusing on the same thing – places, reviews, and star ratings. And these products simply aren’t engaging. Also, these big companies were traditionally desktop companies, and are trying hard to transition to mobile, but are doing so with limited success, because of the nature of their products.

HeyLets is mobile first, it is personalised, it is about recommendations, but more than that, people actually enjoy using it, and it is extremely useful. It can be used not only when you are travelling, but when you are in your own city. It can be used to remember and document great experience, or share with others to inspire them to try new things, as well as find new experiences tailored to your interests that you didn’t even know existed.

Where are you based? How long will you stay there?

We are based in San Francisco, and the wifi seems to work a treat. We will stay here as long as we need to until everyone has HeyLets on their mobile phone!

When was the company launched?

The company launched globally in November 2014 and we are already in over 100 countries.

What have been your biggest wins to date?

HeyLets was featured globally by the iphone as on of its “best new apps”. That was definitely a great day for the team, a huge validation in the product, and a great way for people to hear about HeyLets.

From a product side, something that we are really excited about is the number of people who actually post experiences. On traditional sites, like Yelp/Foursquare etc, only about 1% of people will actually share content. On HeyLets, we have over 13% of our users actually sharing experiences! We think this is because people love that everything on HeyLets is positive, it is short and built for mobile, and it isnt so much about bragging like you get on other social sites, but about sharing experiences for others to try!

We also have a number of celebrities who have profiles on HeyLets – from X Factor winners, to famous Fitness experts and chefs.

What type of people are you trying to attract to your product?

We are looking for people who want to be part of a global community that is about sharing and discovering amazing experiences – whether in their home city, or whilst travelling. You can share experiences across over 250 categories remember, so whether you’re a cyclist or love finding hidden boutique hotels, there is something on the app for everyone.

Also, because the app will only show you content relevant to your interests and profile, anyone can use it! We have people who always know the best beaches to take kids, to young hikers who love sharing hidden swimming holes.

We aren’t looking for people who are interested in telling people what NOT to do, but getting straight to what people want to hear – the good stuff!


Tell us about your team?

Justin and I are the co-founders of HeyLets, and Adam Tierney is our superstar CTO.

Prior to HeyLets, I launched, now one of Australia’s largest online furniture and homewares companies. Justin Parfitt, my co-founder and HeyLets CEO built and sold Fast Impressions, the world’s largest speed dating company.

Adam Tierney is a self taught amazing CTO. He continually tries to improve HeyLets and make the user experience phenomenal.

What are you long term plans for your product / company?

In the long term, we want HeyLets to be on everyone’s mobile phone around the world, in every language.

In the shorter term, we are currently raising our next round of funding. If anyone is interested in investing in HeyLets, we would love to hear from them at [email protected]

What are your favourite tech gadgets?

I am a bit of a drone freak. Please don’t tell any of my friends, as they wont think I am very cool…

What tech gadgets do you wish you could use to help you?

On HeyLets, imagine sharing your experiences you have captured on your drone! Anything like this, or the new goPro, that helps people capture experiences in a more inspirational way for other users, would be amazing. Also, we can’t wait for driverless cars, so whilst we are having those amazing experiences, we can be celebrating with champagne the whole way, and not having to worry about driving home!

How can people contact you to find out more?

Twitter (@HeyLetsApp and @dean_kelly21), Instagram @heylets and and also my email address which is [email protected]

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or @SimonCocking

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