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Inspiring Conversations with Conrad, Ryan, Emerson Brake, Rutkowski, Maggi of Let’s Tap In LLC

Today we’d like to introduce you to Conrad, Ryan, Emerson Brake, Rutkowski, Maggi.

Hello Conrad, Ryan, and Emerson, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Conrad and Ryan were D1 football players at Towson University; with their little free time, they wanted to make the most out of everything they did. After going out for years, they noticed some main issues that would always come up when patronizing the bars. During the 2020 pandemic, they had nothing but free time to re-explore these problems, and BOOM, Tap In was born. After brainstorming the idea with friends and family for months, they started by surveying 200 college students to get a better grasp on what issues others had with the bar scene. This survey data confirmed their initial hypothesis. The main things people wanted to know were the drink specials, how crowded it was, the music being played, where my friends were, and multiple other issues. We started a social media page about the potential app to gauge if the market wanted this idea or not. After 3 months and over 1500 followers, we knew it was time to develop the app. Before we launched our MVP, we would scrape our local bar information and provide them on social media. A one-stop shop for college students to get informed on all their local bar specials. Since we didn’t have any computer science background, we brought Emerson Maggi into the founding team. She would serve as our technology head and brought us to this service called ‘Adalo,’ a brand new no-code app development platform. After hundreds of hours of watching youtube videos and trial and error, our first version of the app was ready at the beginning of January 2022. We launched our MVP in February 2022, and after three months, we had 3,000 users in one market, so we knew we had found a niche. We also knew we needed to find a way to make revenue for the business, so we partnered with a local bar called ‘Charles Village Pub’ we would create, market, and run weekly themed events. This exploded for the business, bringing in more than 700 people weekly at our events.

By April, we had begun to see national attention to our business. We were invited to E-Fest, a national startup competition for undergrad students. At this event, we won the slam pitch competition and were a finalist in the overall competition. We walked away with $12,500 in grant money from our accomplishment. after this, the premier accelerator in the area’ the StarTUp accelerator program’ invited us to join their summer cohort. This is a 10-week program working with the local area’s best startups. This program gave us $10,000 in equity-free money for being apart.

We are very grateful for these opportunities; they keep us focused on bringing the best product to our community. We are developing our full version of the app with a highly scalable back end and will be ready for the public in mid-August. This upcoming fall (2022), we will have expanded into four total markets. College Park MD, Towson MD, Fed Hill/Fells Point Baltimore, and Newark DE, There is a lot more detail to write about but it is best to be explained in person/over the phone.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Our journey has been full of ups and down, from backend problems with our MVP software to bad weather during our events. We realized that everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth, but for us at Tap In, we had to get up and keep swinging. A lot of struggles came from not knowing what to do next. That’s why having advisors/mentors is a key aspect of having a startup. Another thing we put into our business is not letting obstacles slow us down. Creating something new is very hard and scary; all you can do is put it into the world, measure the response and make adjustments. This is the best way to learn while keep moving forward. Not everything is going to be a home run.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Let’s Tap In LLC is an app and an events-based company that strives to enhance nightlife communities across the country. We do this by allowing users to provide and receive real-time data about their local bar scenes and creating better channels of communication and marketing to bar owners. We create, market, and run weekly themed events, allowing us to promote our app and give college students better nights out vs. their average night out of going to the same bars every weekend. Each event averages 800 people, bringing traction to our platform and increased bar owners’ revenue.

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
Finding mentors was crucial for our team. Over the past few months, we have connected with a handful, including Patrick McQuown, Ethan Gar, and more. We connected with these serial entrepreneurs through our area’s top accelerator program. These mentors have done similar things in our industry and help us anytime we need them. Our advice would be to meet and create as many new relationships as possible. To anyone looking for mentors, our best advice is to reach out. It seems intimidating, but people are like you, and successful people usually want to give back to others. Look for people who have been further than you and listen for obstacles they have already encountered.

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Image Credits
Ryan Rutkowski, Conrad Brake, Emerson Maggi

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