Founders’ Friday: Tony Raffa, Bumpin’
Today’s post is all about Tony Raffa and his entrepreneurial accomplishments. Besides being the co-founder of Bumpin’, he has had extensive experience with startups at a young age! So sit down, relax, and enjoy another Founders’ Friday!
RC: Tell me a little bit about your company.
TR: Bumpin’ is a social media network and a user rating system focused on the nightlife in Athens including bars, concert venues, as well as some fraternities and sororities.
RC: How did you come up with your company’s name?
TR: We figured it worked perfectly. Before we even told people about the name, it was already a verb or adjective people used when talking about nightlife. People always say “this place is bumpin.”
RC: What was your inspiration?
TR: My business partner, David Yoglam, was the one who initially started the company. He brought me in a little while after he started it. I have another startup company, and he saw the success I had with that one. My first startup company is called Zombie Coffee. I am from up north, so I started it in D.C. Zombie Coffee is a self-serve coffee place kind of like self-serve frozen yogurt. I am actually trying to bring it down to Athens this year. In Bumpin’ I am mainly director of sales. I do a lot of the business side of things such as looking over our finances and a lot of paperwork. I also go to clients’ bars to pitch our app. David mainly works on figuring out new features of the app and how to work with customers.
RC: What has been the biggest challenge so far?
TR: For Bumpin’, the challenge was trying to do too much. When you are building an app, you have a million awesome ideas and you want to get them all in. This summer we scrapped the old beta version of the app, and now we have a simple and sleeker version.
RC: How is your company unique?
TR: We definitely have competitors, but we have a unique situation where we have two customers: the bars and the people who use the app. The bars don’t want to work with us unless we have enough people for potential customers, and we use the bars to get people deals. For example, when you bump up a bar by giving it a good rating, you get a discount on your next drink. The customers want the deals but the bars want the customers. We need both ends.
RC: What has been the best part of the process?
TR: I have loved both the startups that I’ve done. It’s so much fun. It has been a great learning experience. I am actually a sophomore in college and started Zombie Coffee in my senior year of high school. I have definitely learned more from starting both of these companies than I probably every will in college.
RC: What has been the difference between starting a company in Athens and starting a company in D.C.?
TR: Athens is a very different environment. I couldn’t imagine starting Bumpin’ anywhere else. There is not a better test market than Athens for this app as there is probably a world record for the number of bars in Athens.
RC: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from starting your own company?
TR: Don’t try to do too much. Take things step-by-step and have a business plan. You definitely need a structured business plan before you start a company.
RC: How does your previous experience founding a business help with starting Bumpin’?
TR: I have taken a lot of marketing ideas from Zombie Coffee and put it into Bumpin’. Other than that it is a very different world.
RC: Where do you hope to see your company a year from now?
TR: If all goes well, I hope that we are at least in two other college towns much like Athens. Two of the best college towns would be UT Austin and Wisconsin because they are both big nightlife areas. I always emphasize “organic growth” and that’s how we are going to let it happen. Maybe we’ll go viral.
RC: What are you most proud of about your company?
TR: Although there are a lot of apps like ours, people will eventually see that our app is different. Bumpin’ takes the best parts of many apps and puts it into one.
RC: Is there anything else you would like to tell readers about your startup?
TR: Our official launch is on August 10th.
RC: Have you faced any particular difficulties being a young entrepreneur?
TR: It’s good not having as much to lose. You can always fall back on just being a college student. But being as young as I am, I definitely get written off a lot. You definitely have to prove yourself.
Learn more about Bumpin’ on their website: http://bumpinapp.com/