By Ben Penchas
A solution finally exists for people who leave making weekend plans to the last minute. Ehson Kolbehdari ‘17 and Cody Sugarman ’17 think they’ve built a solution in the form of their new app, called Rally. At its core an event calendar, Rally combines listings for parties, club meetings and campus events into a single feed.
Amidst the slew of similar apps trying to solve the problem, Rally’s simplicity sets it apart. The whole experience is centered on the main feed, which lets you swipe through dozens of events going on in the next few days. More importantly, Rally makes it easier for event organizers to spread the word. The app will seamlessly integrate event information into the feed, with basic details like location, time and the hosting party.
With the app being only a few weeks old, the content is currently limited to Stanford and the surrounding area. Although the founders launched the product three weeks ago during New Student Orientation, they chose to focus on product.
“Since then [NSO], we’ve held back on the marketing,” explained Sugarman. “Now our goal is to perfect the product.”
The pair is trying to take advantage of Stanford’s vast resources to help them in development in areas other than product. They’ve joined Cardinal Ventures, and are part of the new SSE-owned incubator’s fall 2015 class. Although companies in the program receive an initial grant of $1,000, Kolbehdari explained that the program’s true value was in the mentors that came with it.
“The best part about Cardinal Ventures is they put us in contact with some fantastic members of Silicon Valley, some really good mentors,” said Kolbehdari emphatically. “We’ve got one from Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, one from Khosla Ventures and one from Rothenberg Ventures.”
One of Rally’s mentors, Billy Gallagher ’14, explained when asked for comment the opportunity he saw for disruption in the events market. Currently an analyst at Khosla Ventures, he pointed out that many people have tried to solve the problem of event publicity before.
“It still persists,” he explained. “Clearly people want to spend time together and want to find relevant events, yet the solutions are still not perfect.”
Another feature that makes Rally unique is how it eschews invitations or RSVPs. While it could be argued that this would hurt engagement, Sugarman pointed out that the diminished social pressure would encourage users to engage their social environments more aggressively.
“Our problem now is we’re leaning towards the side of being a utility app — we’re a calendar,” he conceded. “Our users are happy with us, but they only check us once or twice a week.”
The company is actively trying to increase engagement, and this is one of the key features of their upcoming update. “We’ve been doing a lot of user interviews, and we have a big feature coming out soon,” explained Kolbehdari.
Perhaps this next feature will make Rally truly stand out from the crowd of apps tackling the events problem. Despite excellent content, the app in its present form is just a calendar and is visually somewhat lackluster. Still, if you want to stay in the loop on parties and events, Rally is worth a download. It’s available on the App Store and an Android version is in the pipeline.
Ben Penchas is the Grind’s technology reporter. Email him at bpenchas ‘at’ stanford.edu.