Alex Eakin, founder of Party Gorilla, has always traveled a lot for work. He often finds himself in new cities, looking for a restaurant or bar that offers a good vibe and lively crowd in addition to great food and drinks. Sure, there’s apps that review restaurants and others that tell you the nearest happy hour. But Eakin realized he wanted a real-time assessment of the fun being had at any given establishment. That idea was the beginning of Party Gorilla, an app that tells you where everyone is hanging out right now. BendTECH sat down with Eakin last week to learn more about Party Gorilla, what it does and … why a gorilla.

Startup: Party Gorilla
Founded:  2014
Leadership team: Alex Eakin, founder and CEO; Kyle Smeback, vp of UI/UX design; Sam Warfield, vp app development; Jameson Strocsher, vp of web development
Headquarters: Bend
Employees: 6

Can you explain Party Gorilla? We’re a real-time social application that gives bar owners and patrons the ability to share the current atmosphere of bars, nightclubs and restaurants around you. You can use Yelp, FourSquare or Google to find places that people have already been to, but Party Gorilla tells you what’s a happening spot right now.

How does it do that?  You download app, and then for instance, you can see all the places with live events, happy hours or just where you’re people are checking in around you. People at the establishment can use our features to rate things such as the energy level, whether it’s crowded or the ratio of men to women. They can also give the place an overall rating, so you can see the cumulative opinion of people who’ve been there.

Get your party on.
New feature idea: Does the bar have tater tots?

But your clients are actually the bars? Yes, so people can rate a spot in real time. Meanwhile, a bar manager or owner can fluidly and instantly advertise to their target market through Party Gorilla. For example, say you’re in Seattle and the Mariners just finished a game. You might offer a drink special right then to anyone who comes in with a ticket stub. Or if your place is slow on Tuesdays, you know the place a few blocks down is always busy, you can target a special to draw that crowd.

Have you already launched? We’re in beta. We’ve released the first version of our app and we’re encouraging people to download it and try it out. We have about 500 users now between Seattle, Boise, Boulder and Bend. Now we’re testing the product, just trying everything we can to break it. And we’re also building up our client base, both of users and bars. We’re planning for a more formal launch in Seattle in June.

Is this your first company? I actually started my first company when I was 12, after I taught myself how to build websites. I grew up in Yakima and created websites for a local car dealer and a golf course. My cousin and I even had an idea for online tee-time system, but we couldn’t get it off the ground — because we had to go to school.  When I was in college, I worked with my dad to start Environmental Dairy Supply, which a spinoff of his company, Environmental Technologies. We are distributors and manufactures of agricultural products.

#50tartups and #dogsofstartups: Alex and TK Dog name.
#50tartups and #dogsofstartups: Alex and Chinook.

Are you raising money? We’re opening our seed round May 1 and we’re hoping to raise $250,000. We already have one local investor, Ted Swindells (co-founder Terra Nova Capital Partners) who has offered to lead this round of funding. Ted has been investing in tech for 30 years. We’re excited for the experience he can bring in addition to the financial support.

Do you have many competitors? There’s a few apps that are similar. But they usually only show users the bars and restaurants that have signed on with them or you have to follow an establishment to know what’s happening there. Party Gorilla is social-first. Our tagline is “know where to go” and we want to show you all the popular spots where people hang out.

I actually need an app that shows places that have the least amount of people and good kid food … Hmm. That could be a feature in a future version of Party Gorilla. But we may need a different name.

About that name, why Party Gorilla? I had a friend who one time when we were at a party, just starting banging his chest and jumping around. We joked that he was the party gorilla and I knew right then that’s was what I would call my company.

Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley, the co-founder of StartupBend.com, is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship and Bend. In addition to writing this blog, she creates content and manages content projects for global financial companies, tech firms and startups. She began her career as a newspaper journalist and later worked as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in WSJ.com, Money Magazine, CNNMoney, MSNBC and Runner's World. See her work at kellykearsley.contently.com or kellykearsley.com.

You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].
Kelly Kearsley