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Entertainment Entrepreneur - Chris Haddad '12
by Jessica Brandi '13
We use them every day. They're on our iPhones, Androids, tablets, iPods, and more. We rate and use them based on functionality, ease of use, and the capability to give us the meaningful information we're looking for. Chris Haddad '12 understands the importance of an app and is working hard behind the scenes of MassNightly to ensure he's providing users with the experience they're looking for.
Haddad is the co-owner of MassNightly, an all-in-one app that provides menu specials, trivia, live music, karaoke, and special events at bars and restaurants all across Massachusetts. The vision for the company developed while Haddad was still at Curry. In fact, many of the hours spent planning for the business took place in the South Campus Residence Hall at the College.
"My partner was coming to SCRH every week and we were shooting ideas back and forth. We created the mobile app, which has kind of been our big money hit, and from there it just kind of took off."
Jumping from merely hundreds of downloads to more than 6,000 in just one year, MassNightly has all the essentials to continue growing. Success hasn't come all on its own, though. Haddad and his partner have worked tirelessly to spread the word about MassNightly in any way they can.
"Facebook was a big thing for us. We put up a lot of posts and got a lot of likes on Facebook and Twitter. We used The Point (venue located in downtown Boston) and we would stand outside and anyone who downloaded our app would get the cover waived."
The MassNightly website, which is the foundation for the app, was developed in January 2012, but a few things had to be put into place before the app could take off. The main step was developing a clear vision for the app in regards to functionality, audience, and avenues for profit.
"We knew we wanted menu specials, trivia, live music, karaoke, and special events, but we wanted to list it in a way that people aren't fumbling like crazy. You're able to click, you can use Google Maps, you can call the venue...It's a one-stop shop."
This keen ability to understand what people are looking for has paid off. Users have given MassNightly rave reviews, with the app receiving a 5-star rating in the iTunes Store and on Facebook. With the ability to open the app on your smart phone and see what's going on at over 300 Massachusetts bars and restaurants at any given time, what's there to complain about?
"It's in your pocket at all times," Haddad says, explaining the appeal of the app. "If you're getting off work and craving some wings, just pull up the app and find 25-cent wings at a nearby bar. I think that's the biggest benefit-having it right in your pocket."
For Haddad, a chunk of each day is spent maintaining and building partnerships with these venues.
"Usually I go through social media to make sure that all of the day's posts are set, then I'll add some bars into the database, contact some bar owners to make sure everything is up-to-date, and reach out to partners to try to grow the business and make sure our name is out there loud and proud."
Haddad always knew he wanted to spend his days as an entrepreneur, and drew inspiration from his family.
"My father started his own business and my mother also teamed up with him, so I've always had the entrepreneur blood in me."
At Curry, he was able to get involved on campus, take advantage of the internship program, and make lifelong relationships that have provided him with an everlasting connection to the College.
"You meet some of your best friends when you're in college. And those are my best friends today. It just felt like home to me."
Studying Information Technology and developing a deep understanding of the industry helped propel MassNightly to early success. Paired with his two internships at EMC and the Pulse Network in Canton, Haddad gained the experience and knowledge necessary to build the business.
"EMC got me on track to the IT world. I was able to see how business processes work and how to organize things. And the Pulse Network helped me with social media and pushing out content."
Haddad stays in touch with those on the Curry campus who influenced him. Whether it was learning about nonverbal cues and body language in Professor Sharon Sinnott's Nonverbal Communication class or recalling lessons learned from his football coach Skip Bandini, he often applies his experiences from Curry to his everyday life as an entrepreneur.
"Connections are everything in this world," Chris says of staying connected with his alma mater. "The people you meet can help you at any time in your life and that's the big thing I realized-stay connected with people because you never know when they're going to help you out."
It is not rare to see Haddad around campus still, as he frequently comes back to interact with students, to be part of the Alumni Football Board, and to attend events.
Now the proud co-owner of the company referred to as a much-needed guide to nightlife across Massachusetts, Haddad encourages everyone to follow their passion.
"Try it. You don't know unless you try. If I looked back and I didn't try MassNightly, I'd be living with regret to this day. My advice is to just get out and try it."