KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A homegrown tech company is getting ready to expand to other cities by moving into a new metro neighborhood.

UpDown NightLife is partnering with a coalition of bars in Westport to better help people find places to spend their weekends. The new partnership is gives the local start up its first chance to work with an entire entertainment district as it keeps growing.

“On any given weekend, there are 11,000-12,000 people checking to see where to go,” said UpDown NightLife Founder and CEO Josh Lewis. “That’s a big deal.”

He estimates about 18,000 people are using the app in total, which helped him raise $500,000 to help hire more employees and build the app out even more.

“As a whole, how do we penetrate a district,” Lewis said. “How do we understand what the district needs in terms of driving traffic.”

It’s already helped people like Tyara Edwin build her DJ business, under the stage name Dj Tee Leche, by promoting her events on UpDown and going to other events she finds there.

“There aren’t so many different options right at this moment in Kansas City, it’s important to be able to see where people are ahead of time,” Edwin said.

Bar/Restaurant Owner Brett Allred said the targeted approach on the app has worked getting people into his businesses.

“Josh [Lewis] being able to centralize that, I think, it offers value to people,” said Allred. “I believe people that are going to that app, they’re looking for a specific thing.”

That’s where employees like UpDown Head of Content and Culture Abram Shaffer come in, helping venues better reach the crowds they’re hoping to draw.

“Within the nightlife industry, the trends we see, the music that we dance to, the drinks that we drink, all of it is because of culture,” Shaffer said. “People want to not only view the post that they’re seeing, but they want to relate to it in some way.”

It’s why influencers like Alia McGee are leading the charge, posting more engaging content and active posts like videos instead of still images of events that might have sufficed in the past.

“People are drawn more to videos and visuals and they want to see what it looks like when you go out,” said McGee. “So that’s one thing when we do have events, we shoot behind the scenes videos and we push that through the week and by the time the weekend comes around, people are excited.”

After a summer that saw a fatal shooting that hurt a handful of people in the Wesport area, Lewis said an app like his pushes back on the idea that a good time after dark leads to something bad.

“The thing about the app in general is it promotes positive nightlife, right,” Lewis said. “It’s all about the hotspot, the plum places, the cool drinks.”

Lewis said the Kansas City was a good place to launch because there isn’t a nightlife scene that’s too hard to break into here. The goal is to grow in the metro before branching out into other cities.

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