How Hugecity got 1.25 million clicks without spending a dime.

In past 3 months our Facebook posts were clicked on 1.25 million times without setting up a single promotion. We were able to target our audience for free by posting to Facebook event walls.

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Facebook is a great way to get a message out to a lot of people, but the costs can add up quickly. With the right message you can get a lot more engagement by posting to Facebook event walls. 

There are lots of benefits of posting to a Facebook event. First, it’s free. When you post to a Facebook event wall everyone who is attending that event gets a notification about your post. This way your message is not lost in the Newsfeed. You can target specific interests and locations. Unfortunately, Facebook events don’t have categories but simply reading the description you will learn the interests of the attendees.

You want to find an event on Facebook? It’s difficult! So we have made it easy for you. We have gathered all the events in your neighborhood, and in every city, and we have put these events on our map, www.hugecity.us.  Our map is as big or as small as you want it to be. It is the very best way to see all Facebook events by attendance and location. If you log in you can post directly to the event on Facebook.

Make sure your message is interesting to the event attendees. If it is not, someone can report your message or your account as spam. Experiment and find out what works best for you. A few reports won’t get you blocked. However, if your posts are reported enough over time Facebook will temporarily lock your account.

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After verifying your account using a government issued ID you should be back up within two weeks. If you are using a fake account, Facebook could ask you to convert your account to a page.

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Copying and pasting a message is easy but pace yourself.  If you submit too many posts too quickly Facebook will temporarily block your account from posting to events. image

If you keep going you will get restricted from posting to events for two days. This can happen many times without your account getting temporarily blocked.

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Hugecity’s Experience:

Like most first-time entrepreneurs we took the Field of Dreams approach, “If you build it, they will come.” We quickly learned that there is a ton of competition out there asking for your user’s time. Today, marketing needs as much focus and time as your product.

Goal: Make my target market aware of Hugecity

Available Budget: $3,000

Timeframe: 6 months

Target Audience: All event lovers on Facebook could use Hugecity. So it was natural for us to target Facebook events. We concentrated on rare and hard to find events. These events normally had little to no marketing budget. These public events were rarely known outside of the event manager’s circle of friends. If these attendees knew that there was something going on they would go out almost every day.   

Step 1: Bought Facebook ads (Cost per click $1.13)

Step 2: Market at local events and never bought swag again (Cost per click $2.50)

Step 3: Create a fake Facebook account and hire an intern to post in events (Cost per click $0.01)

Step 4: Automate Facebook event posting (Cost per click $0)

After we learned through A/B testing and trial and error, we were ready for automation. Apparently, people really like TOP 10 lists. So, we created a list of the TOP 10 Facebook events in every city and neighborhood every day.  Then we posted a link to the list to the walls of each of the TOP 10 events.

Even though we never asked for feedback but the messages and comments were amazing. We were showing people how creative and deep their event community really was. No newspaper or blog could ever have covered 12 million events all over the world. Our posts also reminded people about the event and helped undecided people buy a ticket.   

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Starting from one city and we gradually scaled to 1084 cities and neighborhoods around the world. Using the Facebook Platform we could post to an event wall without attending the event with either a user or a page. You cannot do this on Facebook.

Mechanical Turk helped us identify the geographical boundaries for each target city. Then posted a targeted message in the local language in the ten most attended events within the bounds for each city every day. We had to built a city management system to modify cites as we went. 

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Facebook allows you to set up an unlimited number of pages so we set up 94 of them, one for each state and each major country. Each page had a weight corresponding to its number of cities.

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Averaging less than 1 spam report per 10,000 views, we were well under the radar for Facebook’s spam filter. However, we were limited by how frequent we could post to Facebook. Through trial and error using the platform we discovered evenly paced 100 posts per hour per page would keep us from getting blocked. We enlisted some friends to be admins for our pages and we spread our posts over several time zones. We were posting through the page so my friends or their friends never saw the posts unless they were attending the targeted events.

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We averaged one like and six clicks per post. On the weekends our 8,000 posts would yield 55,000 visits a day. Eventually Facebook Platform changed and closed the ability of being able to post to an event wall without attending the event first. This strategy is still possible if you attend the event first using a user.

Unfortunately, Facebook regularly makes changes to their platform. Anything you build is not guaranteed to work indefinitely. Still, its benefits far outweigh all the work.  Our underfunded neighborhood event guide from Atlanta was able to race up to the top of the millions being spent on our competitors. 

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posted by Hugh Malkin

Y Combinator Interview Post-Mortem

On October 29th, I received an email that there were questions about my application for Y Combinator’s Winter 2014 cohort. I was surprised because our team had filmed our application video in one take and I had quickly answered the questions on the application. Our answers were brief. Event discovery is a very crowded space and our traffic was growing quickly. To stand out, I listed our current traffic in the elevator pitch question, “What is your team going to make?” I figured that line had the best chance of being read with the thousands of applications YC would receive. I had pressed submit without reviewing the application and forgot all about it. 

Product Demo Video

Founder Introduction Video

These are the questions I received after they reviewed our application.

YC Question 1: This is a pretty obscure event. How do you know 8 people are attending? 

My Answer: We know that 8 people have said that they are attending on Facebook.

YC Question 2: Can you please send us the url of a graph of unique visits per day since launch?

My Answer: Here is a link to a photo of our Google Analytics account: Facebook Post

On November 5th, I received an email asking if we could make it to Mountain View for a 10-minute interview in ten days. They were going to cover our travel up to $1100. We quickly booked our flights from Atlanta to San Francisco and an Airbnb on Castro.

I called Kyle Azevedo, the CEO of Viacycle, for advice for the interview. Viacycle was the only YC alum based in Atlanta that I knew. He got me in touch with his batch mates Nick Baum of StoryWorth and Aston Motes of YouThere. Everyone said pretty much the same thing. Have your answers ready and in one quick sentence and that YC hadn’t had any success with startups in the event space. Paul Graham, one of the founders of YC, had tried to get them to pivot the entire time they were in Mountain View.

Our interview was at 10:15am on Friday November 15th. We showed up caffeinated and a little early. The Y Combinator office doesn’t look like much from the outside. We watched multiple Teslas and a Fisker Karma pull into the parking lot. The doors were unlocked at 9:45 and we walked inside with a group of nervous and excited startups. Food and coffee was available but nerves kept us from eating.

In the interview the three of us sat across from four interviewers. The first question was “tell us what you do” and a flood of questions followed. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to demo Hugecity, which is normally the strongest part of our presentation.

One interviewer was on his phone playing with our app. Another was only interested in growth. I was able to satisfy him with a printout of different parts of our growth (see below). Another interviewer was only interested in engagement and another took notes.

It was a game about how many questions we could answer well in the time was given. There was confusion about how we were getting traffic, which sucked up part of our time. We also mentioned a small feature that had not been implemented yet and it took the conversation from 30,000 feet to 1,000 feet. It really showed how easily the conversation could be derailed. We had not read the fine print. YC is for founders only. They want everyone in the room to have at least 20% equity. One of the members of our team was not a founder even though we treated him like one.

It was surprising how quickly they honed in on our weakest link, user engagement. A regular user doesn’t look for events everyday or even every week.  So, just like Yelp, we have to add an event review layer. We had identified what we wanted to add but there would still be a lot of experimentation to see what would stick. We wanted to use our three months at YC to do just that. There was a knock at the door and the interview was over before we knew it.

We were told that we would hear something that evening. I would get a call if we made it in or an email if we did not.

We visited Google for lunch. Then headed to the Computer History Museum to clear our heads. Then we went to the mecca of personal information, Facebook.  We found out that Facebook only has three people running the largest event database on the planet and they don’t care about it because they don’t know what to do with it. “Events don’t move the dial for us.”

A little after six we got emails from the other startups we met in the morning. They had all been told that they did not make it in. 7PM came and went. My family was calling and every time our whole team jumped in excitement. Finally, at 8:11 we got an email saying that that they liked that Hugecity had seen growth in a space that most others had struggled in but they were concerned about our user engagement. “They did not know how to address our level of activity in terms of monthly visits/visitors, mobile app usage, and registration rates.”

Our trip to SF had us very excited. Ideas were pouring out of us before the interview. We were looking around for places to live and how much we would have to give up to live there with the higher cost of living. On the way to SFO we noticed New Relic and iPhone 5C billboards. We were the target market in San Francisco.  On the way home form ATL we saw billboards for Krystal and a church at Six Flags.

The Hugecity team is taking a week to decompress after our trip. We are very happy and proud to have been invited out to Mountain View. We met so many awesome people and quickly learned a lot about what was going on in the event space. Stay tuned for more.

The chart I showed:

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The chart I wish I had showed:

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posted by Hugh Malkin

The biggest HUGECITY iPhone app update yet

The HUGECITY team is pumped to announce the largest update to our iPhone app yet. It’s HUGE.

Here is the briefing:

- Facebook login is no longer required!
- Featuring large, beautiful cover images in the list.
- Tap the event image to view the full cover image.
- You can now add an event to your calendar.
- The Facebook wall is on the event details screen.
- Media links now open directly in the app.
- Fixed the Facebook password change bug.
- A veritable boatload of bug fixes and performance improvements.

Let’s dig into the details:

Facebook login is no longer required to use the app

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This one is pretty self explanatory. I’ve been looking forward to offering this functionality since day one. To all of our fans and potential fans that don’t use Facebook, come and get your events!

Large, beautiful cover images in the list

Our designers went back to the drawing board after Facebook unveiled cover images for events a few months ago. Today, we’re happy to provide our response to that:

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We find that the larger images not only look better, but they often include useful information about the event.

Tap the event image to view the full cover image

This was a no-brainer. More often than not, the event creator uploads a large image for the event - but then the image is cropped to the rectangular banner that you see on Facebook and in the HUGECITY event list. You can now tap the image to see the full-sized image that the event creator uploaded to Facebook:

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Note to Facebook event creators and promotors: we recommend uploading the full-sized image to Facebook, and crop the image to the most important or informative portion of the image (see example above). Here are more tips for creating Facebook events.

You can now add an event to your calendar

This was another no-brainer. You can easily use HUGECITY to view all of your upcoming events, but you might also want to add an event to the calendar on your phone. This is now possible from the “Share” menu:

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The Facebook wall is on the event details screen

Instead of having to tap “The Wall” in the event details screen to view the wall for the Facebook event, you can now view the Facebook wall directly in the event details screen. You can now see 99% of the event details directly on the event details screen.

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Media links now open directly in the app

You can now play media links for an event directly in the app. We extract all YouTube videos, SoundCloud songs, etc. out of the event details and the event wall, and give those to you directly in the app. You can now preview the event directly within the app:

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Fixed the Facebook password change bug

I fixed an annoying bug that broke the app for some users after they changed their Facebook passwords. I apologize if you were affected by this problem.

A veritable boatload of bug fixes and performance improvements

Too much stuff to list here. Actually, I just don’t feel like going back through all of the (NERD ALERT) git commits since the last App Store update.

Enjoy!

posted by Jonathan Nesbitt

The latest HUGECITY for iOS delivers larger images and improved usability

I’m happy to announce that the latest version of HUGECITY for iOS (v1.6.9) is in the App Store! This time around we’re bringing you two major changes: we got rid of the tabs in the event detail screen, and we’ve added larger images.

No More Tabs

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The initial app design included tabs in the event detail screen. You could tap between Main, Details, and Map. However, user feedback across the board suggested that the tabs were too cumbersome. They were admittedly to hard to tap, and it took too many taps to get to the good stuff.

If you select an event in the list, you now get one amazing screen of useful information about the event. You can scroll through the cover image, details, friends attending, media, map, Facebook wall, etc. You can still tap some of the items to disclose more information. The event detail screen has seen other BIG improvements as well:

Big, Pretty Images

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We have added larger images across the board in the event details screen. Cover images, friends attending, media thumbnails - you name it.

Just to sweeten the deal, we’ve also made your friend images and media thumbnails horizontally scrollable. Instead of tapping to view more, you can now swipe left and right to scroll through the items. Go ahead and tap that big media thumbnail to play sounds or watch videos.

That’s all I have this time around. Expect to see the larger event cover images in the list very soon!

posted by Jonathan Nesbitt

TOP 10 Tips for Creating a Facebook Event

Make sure your event finds the audience it deserves.

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1. Use a Facebook Page to create your event and add your personal profile as a host

  • Invitees have a link to see all of the other events you have created
  • Invitees have a link to like your page
  • Your personal profile can directly message all of the invitees (Abuse of this feature can be seen as spam)

2. Don’t make someone search for information on your event
Make sure the important stuff is at the top of the details section and can be seen without hitting “See More”. 

  • If there is a separate registration website, put that first!
  • At the end of the details section, list all of the links someone would be interested in: main event link, tickets, audio, video, Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, and ALL other event links
  • Third party Facebook event aggregators like HUGECITY recognize these links and highlight them for their audience.

3. Use Facebook recognized venues not addresses for the location
Type the venue name into the location bar slowly. Facebook will autocomplete the name of the venue, click on one of the suggestions. If your venue is not listed, create a venue.

  • VERY IMPORTANT: If you do not have a map on your event Facebook will not recommend it to friends of your attendees or people in the area

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4. If your event lasts longer than 5 days, create multiple events
Calendars automatically import Facebook events and you will create more enemies than friends if you squat on someone’s calendar for days. 

  • If you don’t add an end time Facebook defaults your event to 3 hours long.

5. Never check “Only admins can post to the event wall”
The wall is the best place to engage your invitees. Allow them to communicate with you.

6. Add a cover photo that fits the event and fits the rectangle (714 x 264 pixels) This is just like a magazine cover or flyer for an event

  • Don’t use the flyer for the event unless you can see all of the information you need in the rectangle

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7. Have one official Facebook event. 
If you can, make everyone involved in the event a host to your event.

  • Invitees can see all of their friends who are attending without having to look at lots of events.
  • Those hosts can help spread the word about your event
  • The true attendee number can be seen a lot easier

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8. Use your invites wisely
Create groups of friends by location, interest, work and more.

  • Use Facebook hacks like “invite all of your friends” to invite the groups of your friends to your event. (Abuse of this feature can be seen as spam)

9. Keep people excited about coming. 
50% of tickets are sold when you first publish the event. The next 50% are sold the week of the event. Someone saying that they are attending does not mean that they will remember to be there.  

  • A post into your event wall notifies everyone who has been invited.
  • Post pictures, past videos, reviews and articles written about the event (remember to tag all of the pages involved with the @ function)
  • As your page, send an update for your event
  • As your personal profile send a direct message to all attendees

10. Promote your event outside of your circle. 
Facebook only allows you to invite your friends. Facebook ads give lots of impressions but very few attendees. (Not worth the cost)

  • Share your event on Twitter and your Facebook page
  • Share your Facebook event with all of the people involved with your event
  • Share your Facebook event with bloggers and tastemakers that would care about your event
  • Share the Facebook event with all of the local event bloggers like: Patch, Scoutmob, Waze, and Local Papers
  • Promote your event on HUGECITY Your event will be featured at the top of the list on the website, app, and email. You can also add a sponsor to your event to show off your next event or the after party. Contact: hugh (at)hugecity.us

 

HUGECITY helps people to discover 150,000 Facebook events a month and growing quickly. Stay tunned lots more to come!

posted by Hugh Malkin

HUGECITY for iPhone update: the Friends Map is here!

We are excited to announce that the much anticipated Friends Map is now featured in the HUGECITY app for iPhone! You can see where your friends are going tonight, this weekend, or whenever. Tap your friends’ faces on the map to see what event they are attending. This is the best thing since margarine in a tub.

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We are also pumped to announce that you can now swipe through event callouts on the map! Go ahead: jump to your favorite neighborhood, tap an event, and swipe to see other events close by. If you find something interesting, tap to view more information about the event.

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To polish all of this off, we also added small but useful feature: you can now easily view events happening next week! Our dear friend and officemate TJ demanded that we give him the ability to see events happening next week with just two taps. Now he can, and so can you! Tap “Search Events By Date” in the menu or tap the date button on the map, then tap “Next Week” to view events happening next week. Thanks Teej!

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On top of all of this, we hooked you up with a formidable array of bug fixes and performance enhancements.

Happy event finding!

posted by Jonathan Nesbitt

3 Awesome Reasons Why Atlanta is Awesome

Let’s face it; Atlanta doesn’t get much hype about being a great travel destination. I’ve been living here for years, and friends and family still ask me “what is there to do in Atlanta?” I believe that Atlanta is an incredible place with a lot of great events happening throughout the city. Here are my 3 reasons why Atlanta is awesome. 

Reason 1: We love Beer!

Seriously, we love ourselves some good ol’ fashion brew. There are a lot of great beer festivals going on throughout the city like the Atlanta Summer Beer Fest, which is being held at The Masquerade on June 22nd. There’s also the Great Atlanta Beer Fest which is coming up in August at Turner Field. Great events like these are happening all over, and nothing says summer like friends, beer, and music! (Friends and music can be considered optional)

Reason 2: We love the outdoors!

Atlanta has some great parks. And despite the usual 1000 degree weather, we love to get out and have some fun. So if you like basketball, then you’ll love the Red Bull King of the Rock streetball competition held at Central Park in Atlanta! This competition will feature 64 of the best streetballers from around the city and place them in intense 1-on-1 basketball games as they compete to win the title of King of the Rock. The winner will have the opportunity to travel to Alcatraz, CA, and compete against the best streetballers from all around the world! But even if basketball isn’t your thing, there are plenty of events that let you get some fresh air. One event that I plan on checking out is Atlanta’s GREEN Fun Fest in Historic Grant Park. You’ll be able to enjoy things like great music, food trucks, a carnival-style game boardwalk, and the most insanely silly and intense lawn darts tournament known to man!

Reason 3: We really, really love music!

I’m sure you’ve heard about the great line of artist performing at Music Midtown at Piedmont Park. But if you’re like me, then you can’t wait until September to get a dose of great music. Atlanta has some great music venues throughout the city, and I love listening to all of the bands and performers who come through. One of my personal favorite new artists, Kendrick Lamar, is performing at the Tabernacle on June 20th. Additionally, there are dozens of great local bands that perform all around the city. Look Alive is a great Atlanta pop-punk who is having their CD release concert at the Masquerade on June 29th. No matter what type of music you’re into, I promise that you can find exactly what you’re looking for in Atlanta.

The Conclusion! 

This was supposed to be a list of 5 things…then I got a little lazy. But you can check out all of the events mentioned and even more events at HUGECITY! Their website and free app lets you see all of the events happening around you in Atlanta, or any city in the world. Next time anyone asks you what is there to do in Atlanta, you’ll know exactly what’s going on in this great city. 

HUGECITY for iOS gets a HUGE update

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Big news today in HUGECITY land: the latest version of our iPhone app v1.4.8 just landed in the App StoreWe’re super stoked about the new features that we’re introducing in the iPhone app today.

A handful of these new features were developed based on suggestions from users like you. Keep the feedback coming - we are listening.

Here’s the rundown:

1. Jump to Location

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You can now jump to any location in the world - including neighborhoods! Just tap ‘Jump to Location’ in the menu, type in where you want to find stuff to do, and tap ‘Go’. We will take you there, and show you what’s going on.

2. Get Directions

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You can now get directions to an event from the HUGECITY app. And here’s the best part: if you have Google Maps installed on your iPhone, we will launch that app to help get you there! If you don’t have Google Maps installed, no worries: we will send you to Apple Maps to get directions.

3. User Profile

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The user profile screen has been completely overhauled. You can now update your user profile information from this screen, as well as change your email settings.

4. Intro screens

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We now provide a few intro screens to introduce new users to the HUGECITY app. After logging in to Facebook, the user can swipe through the intro screens and then confirm their user profile information.

5. Options screen

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We now have an options screen that allows to you do some rad stuff around HUGECITY - e.g. get customer support, send us feedback, rate our app, etc.

6. Search by Date

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You have always been able to search events by date, but now it is easier to find! Just head on over to the menu and tap ‘Search Events by Date’.

7. Several other improvements

  • Map markers are now event images instead of green pins.
  • Events you are attending now glow green on the map.
  • Added pull-to-refresh support to Events Nearby.
  • Badges now indicate if you are attending or invited to an event.
  • The number of event attendees now appears in the list.
  • A healthy amount of bug fixes and performance enhancements.

We hope you continue to enjoy HUGECITY. Please, please, please send any suggestions to @hugecity or jonathan@hugecity.us - we are listening! Also, come find us at local events and festivals around Atlanta - we will hook you up with free tees, koozies, and the ever popular Evereman temporary tattoo:

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Thank you!

posted by Jonathan Nesbitt

Stop working! Get the HUGECITY widget.

Do you spend hours every week searching for and sharing local events on your website? Import them automatically with the HUGECITY widget!

 

ATLANTA – May 27, 2013 – HUGECITY is proud to announce the release of our widget which allows you to quickly and easily embed a list or map of events on your website.

 

If you want a list of all of the events happening in your neighborhood, simply draw a box around your neighborhood. If you want to show all of the biking events happening in your city, automatically import all of the events from the biking pages you like. Or show specific events with one click by favoriting each event on HUGECITY.

 

Your events calendar will never be out of date because the widget automatically updates as the event creator changes the time, location, or other details on Facebook.

 

“I know lots blogs and local websites that spend hours every week creating an events calendar for their readers. This widget allows you to concentrate on content curation rather than the monotonous task of copying event information and keeping up with them as events inevitably change.”  ~ Hugh Malkin, Co-Founder and CEO HUGECITY

 

When is the HUGECITY widget available?

Today! You can build the code on our website at https://www.hugecity.us/widget.

 

HUGECITY is also available for free as a website, iOS app, and mobile website. So use it when you need it, on your computer at work or on your phone while you are out.

 

How much does it cost?

HUGECITY is free, and our goal in the future is to promote events like Yelp does for restaurants.

 

Who’s behind HUGECITY?

HUGECITY is the first app from our team of 4 social computer scientists and engineers (we exist!) from Atlanta, GA. We work from The Goat Farm, an artist commune in Atlanta. The Goat Farm is known for being the set TV shows and films like The Walking Dead and Hunger Games. Walking through a movie set before work only fuels our fire to tell everyone to experience their amazing cities.

 

How does HUGECITY work?

HUGECITY uses Facebook Connect to collect all the public events for you based on your interests and your friends. The HUGECITY map narrows down to just the few that are in the area. You never have to ask a friend to join HUGECITY or tell HUGECITY what you like. Don’t work twice! We do it all for you!

 

Didn’t find any cool events?

HUGECITY works best in cities. You can expand the map to search a bigger area or change the date by clicking ‘TODAY’ and changing to ‘THIS WEEK’.

 

Get the Widget:                      https://www.hugecity.us/widget

Download our press kit:       https://www.hugecity.us/contact

To download the app:            https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hugecity/id643054922?mt=8

To visit the website:              https://www.hugecity.us/

App demo video:                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZf8B0Io97U

Tweet us at:                           https://twitter.com/hugecity

posted by Hugh Malkin