KWAD - What's Bumpin

KWAD - What's Bumpin
Making Social Media More Social
Oakland, California, United States United States

What's Bumpin is a context and location aware mobile app that helps college students find people, places and events that are bumpin right now, later tonight or this weekend. The app provides an intuitive, easy-to-use and inherently viral college-only platform that students helped to design, love to use, and are signing up to promote on 10 campuses.

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Company description


What's Bumpin is a context and location aware mobile app available today on iTunes and Google Play that helps college students find people, places and events that are bumpin right now, later tonight or this weekend.

The app provides an intuitive, easy-to-use and inherently viral college-only platform that students helped to design, love to use, and are signing up to promote.

In the app, students can:

  • view an ordered list of recommended Events and Places
  • filter those in a variety of ways
  • see where their friends are, and where they plan to go
  • see how many users are at an event or place, and what they have in common with those users
  • easily create their own public or private events or places
  • invite their friends to the app or even directly to events through the social networks they already use
  • post comments and pictures to events and places
  • use the app on their campus, in their town, or anywhere across the US
  • control their privacy


Market Opportunity
We are in a great market. There are 25 million undergrads in North America, and 300 million worldwide. While there are plenty of dating apps and book exchange services, when Facebook alienated college students, a social media vacuum was created in the category that has yet to be filled. Similar social media brands have achieved per-user valuations from $100-450 per user - that's a $9 trillion worldwide market opportunity.

Problem Statement
Colleges around the country recognize that students are increasingly disengaged; they are more isolated, and less prepared to make meaningful connections or explore the unique opportunities that a college experience provides. This stems from the combination of our more protective parenting culture and the physically isolating use of traditional social media tools - which together leave children ill equipped for the social discovery college provides.

What’s Bumpin seeks to reverse this trend by utilizing social media to enhance the college experience by encouraging person-to-person connection, interaction and discovery. Students love the concept and are actively engaging now.

Why What's Bumpin?
As a late-mover in a market that has been empty since Facebook alienated it, we have the opportunity to grab a leader position in the College category very quickly with a Social Media app designed by and for college students to facilitate a more social college experience.

Unlike apps that have tried to do this with the support of college administrations, or who have launched at only a single school, we have a team of 10 Launch Squad student leaders that are organizing launch activities at ten college campuses around the US (schools like Arizona State University, University of Texas, University of Washington, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UNC - Chapel Hill and Macalester) - they are leading their own teams of college student ambassadors (50+ and counting) to help us grow exponentially week on week and month on month.

Our Vision
We're making Social Media more Social.

Our goal is to deliver on the promise of Social Media by empowering College Students to leverage the digital medium to drive in-person engagement. We don't believe that lives are meant to be shared on a screen - but rather in-person.

Our Elasticity recommendation engine will help to pull like-minded people towards each other, will help people get outside of their bubbles to explore new places and events, and ultimately will help to reverse the isolation, disengagement and voyeurism that current Social Media outlet have propagated.




  • Christopher Harmon
    Christopher Harmon | Founder
    The visionary behind KWAD, Chris takes good ideas and makes them great. He has engaged with over 50 start-ups to accelerate growth: Success Factors, Eloqua, Marketo, Lending Club, Callidus, Demandbase, etc. This is his first product start-up.
  • Maggie Harmon
    Maggie Harmon | Founder
    I have extensive experience in operational management, team organization, coordination and management, production coordination, and executive leadership coaching. I work with people, systems, and process to help individuals and groups work better.
  • Darren Schisler
    Darren Schisler | Founder
    Darren brings almost 20 years of design expertise to the table along with a unique understanding of technology, business and design that allows him to lead teams in creating "mobile first" user experiences.
  • Jaime Hasama
    Jaime Hasama | Team member
    Launch Leader for What’s Bumpin at Macalester College. Identifes feature-set opportunities, recruits and manages college student ambassadors, seeds content, provides QA feedback, and promotes application.
Awards and Mentions
  • 18979_3026
    Featured is the SXSW Start-up Spotlight - highlighting 40 of the top start-ups from around the world at one of the most attended interactive / start-up conferences in the world!
  • Business model

    Building Traction
    In 2015, we will focus on establishing a critical mass of monthly active users across 5 regions. We launched in early March with 5 Launch Leaders who grew our user base in just over a month to more than 400 registered users. We are targeting Fall 2015 for a major marketing effort (funded by a Seed round) to grow to 25k+ users. Note: we have currently been downloaded at 30 new campuses with ZERO directed marketing.

    In 2016, we will begin to monetize our traction with permissions-based sponsored "feed" items - these will be context and location based offers by retail brands to students. We already have interest in this model from a major convenience retailer and a financial institution. A recent survey by SDL indicates that students WANT permissions-based promotions through social media.

    Big Data
    Later in 2016, we will add aggregated and anonymized big data analytics to provide insights into millennial behavior for brands. These insights are crucial for consumer brands seeking to target the most influential segment in today's market - and there are few current or relevant sources for this data.

    Competitive advantage

    Market Analysis
    Over the last 36 months this market has been very active, with multiple indirect or direct competitors raising capital, but failing to achieve significant penetration - we believe we have a late-mover advantage. Competitors fall into one of three buckets:

    1) Messaging
    This dominates the market, as students do not want adults participating in their conversations, and messaging applications provide a great deal of control. However, messaging is a very inefficient way of planning or engaging in activities - students constantly miss each other as they walk/bike back and forth between events. Moreover, messaging apps have proven to have little staying power, with a different app dominating the market every 6-9 months.

    2) Dating / Hook-up apps
    This is where the most activity has been seen over the last 24 months. While it is certainly "sexy" in more ways than one, these apps address a small proportion of the college-age audience, and then, only have utility 2-3 nights a week for 3-5 hours. What's Bumpin supplants some of this utility, by telling students What's Bumpin on any given night, addresses the entire market (not just that percentage willing to use a dating / hook-up app), and has valuable utility 7 days a week - all day long.

    3) Similar Events-Based apps
    Directly competitive apps fall into one of two buckets:

    • Admin Focused
      A few competitive apps believe that the best go-to-market strategy is to monetize college administrations that are seeking higher engagement from their student body. While these companies are correct in identifying an engagement problem, they are flawed in their GTM, as no college student will ever use an app supplied by the administration of their campus as a social media outlet.
    • Single Campus
      There have been MANY single-campus apps launched by current or recently graduated students. Many of these have seen dramatic surges in local use, followed by a slow fizzle as that student leaves / graduates. And none of these have been successful at scaling - primarily because their feature sets are limited, their apps are heavily localized, and their teams have no experience with marketing.

    Competitive Advantages

    • User Centric Approach
      50 college students across 10 brand-name campuses have helped KWAD specify and design What's Bumpin just for college students.
    • GTM Strategy
      Our localized (10 campus) GTM plan has proven successful at engaging students, as they feel ownership over the product - affiliating themselves directly with it's success. At the same time, by focusing our marketing on just 10 campuses during the Beta launch, we are able to communicate with the students, ensure high quality and consistent content, and support organic growth beyond. This is very similar to the strategies employed by both Facebook and Red Bull to dominate the college market.
    • Rich Activity-Driven Features
      Our goal is to get college students out of their dorm rooms and engaged with each other. What's Bumpin helps them find where their friends are right now, and where they plan to go later tonight or this weekend. We help students find other students they may not know but who share their common interests. We help students post their own events AND explore other events that they might have never otherwise found. Ultimately, we help students have a more engaged college experience, regardless of whether they are athletes, greeks, academics, artsy, or geeks.
    • ONLY for and by College Students
      Students do not want adults in their conversations - that's why they aren't on Facebook or Yelp. BUT they still want to connect with each other and find places to meet new people - which is why they ARE on Twitter and Snapchat. What's Bumpin utilizes their content (UGC) so that they can find each other at relevant College events and places - and avoid adults as much as possible :)
    • Patent-Pending Technology
      What's Bumpin is built on a sophisticated, patent pending recommendation engine that utilizes machine learning to predict which events and places are most likely to appeal to individual students. This engine utilizes a unique "big data" approach to considering profile, behavior, relationships and temporal attributes to rank the events and places most likely to appeal to any given user right now. This makes it easy for students to jump on the app any time of day, at their campus, at home or at an internship - and connect with new or old friends anywhere in the the US.
    • Insight + Execution
      We each have decades of experience building technical infrastructure, designing compelling brand and product experiences and accelerating growth with exceptional targeted and customer-centric marketing. And we have direct access to dedicated end-users that not only want to use What's Bumpin, but are personally invested in helping us drive success. Combined, we have a powerful team that leverages proven ability to execute with deep domain expertise provided by students themselves.

    Responses to Judge Inquires / Concerns:

    1. Would like to see a younger team building something for their own generation:
      College students have directly contributed to the concept, specification, design, development, QA and launch of the App. We have a student board member (with voting rights), 10 Launch Squad leaders, and 40 more Launch Squad members. We tested the concept early on in a blind market research test at ASU. We are currently on-boarding student interns in development and marketing to work with us through the summer and beyond.
    2. Tough to force adoption - how do you get students to post events here instead of Facebook? How do you stay cool?
      Students are already invested in using the app and promoting it to their friends. They have created over 3000 places and nearly 6000 events since we launched (growing by the hundreds every week). We are increasing user-base at projected pace, doubling week over week, with a K factor of 1+. Our students will continue to ensure that this app is theirs - with features they want and content that they drive. Seed funding will support organic growth by driving awareness, encouraging engagement, and supporting continued feature development.
    3. Seems like a crowded market - heard ideas in this space before.
      Yes. Late movers frequently win.
      - Google: search was dead when Google was born
      - Facebook: MySpace was dominating a category filled with hundreds of Social Media upstarts
      - AirBnB: Entered a space with 3 dominate players, and thousands of niche competitors
      - Literally thousands of other examples
      Competitors both direct and indirect either fail to understand the market dynamics of college students (Campus Quad), fail to grasp the totality of the opportunity (WiGo), or lack the ability to execute (dozens of college-student founded apps). None of them have the Elasticity Recommendation Engine. None of them have become market leaders. We've just entered the market, and are already displacing, stealing share, and gaining traction where others have failed.
    Henrik von Schoultz
    My goals as a manager and owner are to create strong companies from bright idees in the technology and service area. I have a broad experience from all positions in large companies and also from many startups,