> #TONIGHT We Say Goodbye to Wendr

Dear Friends, Family Members, Wendr Users, Press, Partners, and all those who supported us and helped to bring Wendr to life,

On Wednesday, February 8th, 2012 at 7:01pm Wendr version 1.0 was released into the Apple iTunes App Store.

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After a great run of more than 15 months, #TONIGHT we are shutting down the Wendr API and associated servers and services.  

After the incredibly exciting opportunities we were able to take advantage of with Budweiser and BlackBerry, the Wendr team has evolved to become [L]earned Media, a full service branded content marketing company focusing on social, mobile and earned media.  We’re currently providing services for both agencies and brands.  You can read more about this evolution on PandoDaily.  If you would like to learn more about us, please visit, www.learnedmedia.com or follow us at www.twitter.com/learnedmedia.

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We are forever grateful to our entire community for your support throughout this time.

Most Sincerely,

> Sam Zises, Founder & CEO

> Nick Kaye, Co-Founder & Chief Engineer/Creative

***If you are interested in licensing, acquiring or leveraging the Wendr product or technology, please contact sam@learnedmedia.com***

Below is a list of the competitors who have also tried to gain traction within this space.  For reference, when Wendr launched version 1.0, most of these apps did not yet exist — some never even fully launched.

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Click here for the complete list including links and status.

How one “Series A crunched” startup traded user acquisition for dollar acquisition

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Wendr’s story has a beginning that’s familiar to many a startup. Sam Zises saw a hole in the market for social networking apps. They were great for sharing one’s current activity. But they were awful for making plans for the future. So he built an app that helps friends share their plans with each other. Wendr was a “Foursquare for the future” and it gained modest steam, accumulating users in the tens of thousands.

Unfortunately 10,000 users does not a successful social media app make. Especially when ten million users is the new one million users and a Series A crunch is on. Founder Sam Zises saw the writing on the wall and did what he, as a former brand and business development manager at ad agencies OgilvyEntertainment and Big Fuel, knew best. He went after the big brands.

It worked.

Wendr is now a product of Zises’ agency, [L]earned Media, and he’s white-labeling the app for brands, starting with a BlackBerry campaign in 30 South American, Latin American and Caribbean countries. The app is part of RIM’s BlackBerry Insider program. Blackberry Insider is the a community that includes both exclusive and user generated content for the underground scene in music and nightlife in Latin America. In each of the 30 countries involved, Wendr pulls in events from a user’s phone calendar as well as Facebook events to share a newsfeed of friends’ plans both in the app and in BlackBerry Messenger.

Turning an app into an agency is not a venture capitalist’s dream. But it’s also not a lame soft landing. Zises’ agency is building cool technology that will be used by more people, and he’s getting paid for it. “There’s just so many opportunities for brands to connect with startups,” he says. “The next venture capital is going to be brands.”

It’s a much different chorus than one I’ve heard repeatedly from startups focused on user acquisition. The whole “we’re not your creative agency” thing. Talk to me in a few months when your pre-money company runs out of venture capital — maybe that creative agency gig looks a bit more attractive.

Brand-savvy entrepreneurs who understand advertising from day one will have an easier time monetizing. The marketing world is trickier to navigate than most startups think. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have struggled to keep their users happy while courting advertisers. You could argue, that, in light of Facebook’s constant privacy outrages from users and whiny complaints from advertisers, the company has utterly failed on both fronts. Same for Instagram, with Terms of Service-gate this week, and Twitter, with its hostility toward its developer community as it aims to please advertisers.

Now, the next Facebook, Twitter or Instagram might not even make it to a Series A round of funding. We’re in a new paradigm of investing where VCs are hostile to social media startups that are focused on user acquisition and gaga over enterprise software. Investors have been pointing many a young company in Zises’ direction, and he’s advised early stage startups like MakeablyGiftHit andSocialPace on how to be brand-friendly from an early stage. With [L]earned Media’s Blackberry deal (and a deal with Budweiser as the result of winning a pitch contest), Wendr is proof that a young startup with hardly any traction can make money, even if it means white-labeling the product or shifting focus ever-so-slightly. As app overload sets in and a seed-stage shakeout begins, that is a better option than failure.

“For every Instagram or Snapchat out there, how many Wendrs are out there that are making cool products but don’t have that magic fairy dust to get them to a billion picture shares?” Zises asked.

Originally posted on PandoDaily.com on December 21, 2012.

[L]earned Media Launches Branded Content App, Wendr, Featuring Insights on Exclusive Events for BlackBerry Customers in Latin America

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Users Can Discover Insider Tips on What’s Happening in Their Cities And Easily Coordinate Plans with Friends

New York, NY — December 21, 2012 — [L]earned Media, the branded content agency that focuses on mobile and social media, today announced the launch of a new social planning application for BlackBerry® smartphones that is part of the BlackBerry Insider program. The app features exclusive, real-­‐time information on social events and happenings for BlackBerry customers in Latin America. Along with existing Wendr functionality that lets users discover friends’ nighttime plans, the interactive mobile app spotlights a newsfeed of happenings suggested by BlackBerry “insiders” in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. The app showcases premiere access to popular events in music, fashion, culture and nightlife. Users are also rewarded for active social collaboration, posting, and sharing.

“We’re excited to launch a new social app for BlackBerry customers in Latin America, which is a dynamic, one-­‐stop-­‐app for making plans and finding out the latest fun and undiscovered things that are happening in their cities,” said Sam Zises, [L]earned Media’s founder and CEO.

The Wendr app pulls in plans from the user’s BlackBerry Calendar as well as their friends’ events from Facebook to provide a detailed newsfeed of relevant nightly events and activities. Users are able to make and share plans with friends privately on Wendr or publically across Facebook. [L]earned Media is developing an upcoming release that will allow users to share their plans on Twitter as well as update their BlackBerry® Messenger (BBMTM) status directly from within the app.

Wendr for BlackBerry smartphones is now available on the BlackBerry App WorldTM storefront: https://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/19205212/?lang=en

For more information about BlackBerry Insider, please visit www.blackberryinsider.com

BlackBerry, RIM, Research In Motion and related trademarks, names and logos are the property of Research In Motion Limited.

How Wendr Evolved Into [L]earned Media

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Wendr is a smart way to plan your night and see what your friends are doing. Recently, I caught up with founder Sam Zises to talk about Wendr and his new venture [L]earned Media. When Sam noticed that lots of brands wanted to work with Wendr, he evolved the company into an agency that deals with branded content for mobile and social media.

How did you come up with Wendr?

I had the idea for Wendr when I was in college. There was never an app to see what your friends were doing that night. People may text and post on Facebook but there is no centralized way to see what people are doing tonight. Before I started Wendr, I worked at Big Fuel. My partner is Nick Kaye and we met at Big Fuel. We opened the office in August and it took about six months to build it and really refine it. We launched the app in early February at the onset of Social Media Week. In April Ad Age put an article out that said Budweiser wants your startup pitch. So 300 companies applied and six were chosen to go on stage and pitch at the event. We were one of the six and we won.While we were working with Budweiser we also got a call from Blackberry. They are working on a campaign in Latin America that is all about culture and nightlife. Blackberry asked us if they could license the app so we are working on that now. It’s going to be Wendr powered by Blackberry. While all these branded deals have been going on the industry has changed. When we thought of the idea for Wendr there were only a handful of competitors but today there are 50. There are 50 startup apps that all focus on social planning. We decided that we could keep on doing Wendr and bootstrapping it or we could focus on branded content for the companies that are paying us. We basically evolved into a social media and branded content agency. One of our first clients was David Blaine. We designed and developed his website and are working with him.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started Wendr?

Before I built Wendr I had a presentation ready for Budweiser. You should be thinking about brand partnerships as you are designing your product.

What advice do you have for startups?

Unless you work for a startup you really have no idea what it takes. For a startup to be successful you need product, traction and revenue. Very few startups get to all three very fast.

What’s going on with Wendr?

Wendr is really becoming more of a product that we sell. Companies are licensing the app so the next step is to see where those partnerships go. An app like Wendr needs organic growth. You need to love it and tell all your friends about it. The main demographic is college kids and it’s not easy to infiltrate that demographic when there are thousands of other apps.

Do you think startups are going to head in this direction because the field is so crowded?

Yes, one of my predictions is that Madison Avenue is going to act more like venture capitalists. Brands are all going to act like venture capitalists because that is where startups get all their money. Startups are going to have to learn to work with brands. Also, lots of tech startups are so focused on their product that they can be close-minded. Some of the feedback we have received from our partners is that they love how open and receptive we are to working with them.

Originally posted on HuffingtonPost.com on December 10, 2012. 

The Grab Some Buds Beta-Tester Launch Party

SO…WHAT’S UP?
Budweiser’s giving some lucky individuals early access to Grab Some Buds, the brewmasters’ pre-released iPhone app powered by Wendr that tells you what your friends are doing on any given night based on their Facebook events, statuses, Tweets, and Foursquare check-ins.

WHAT DO I GET FOR BETA-TESTING?
Test-drivers not only get an early go at “finding their night” with this clever app, they’ll also score an invite to the Grab Some Buds Beta-Tester Launch Party on Tuesday, December 4th, an evening featuring a Budweiser-stocked open bar, DJ Sean Glass spinning, models to show you the app’s ins & outs, and more. “Grab Some Buds,” get it? Sure, NOW you do…

HOW DO I GET IN ON IT?
Just drop your deets here for a chance to beta-test the app and score an invite to the party. Whatever else you do to be selected — rubbing Buddha bellies left-and-right, vigorously knocking on wood to the point of splinters, praying really hard that Mercury isn’t in retrograde — is totally up to you.

Originally sent via Thrillist.com on November 27, 2012.