Looking for a lesbian friendly restaurant near you? Or are you in an unfamiliar city carrying only your smartphone, and you want to find the best parties to go to for queer women? In the past, many women relied on word of mouth recommendations or online research to find the happening events or venues in a given city, but in a world where mobile applications are slowly overtaking the desktop browsing experience, it was only a matter of time before someone would create an application for LGBT women that answers the simple question, “Where do I go?”
SheSeek, a sleek iPhone application with an aesthetically pleasing interface that lists events, bars, clubs, bookstores, and other lesbian friendly businesses in 27 markets across the United States, launched quietly last month. Within SheSeek, a user can filter venues and events by choosing Dine, Sip or Frolic, and available venues and events appear on a handy map based on the user’s physical location. Even with very little marketing, its popularity has soared. In less than a month, SheSeek’s Facebook page has attracted 4,000 likes, and Founder and CEO Esther Zinn says that even lesbians abroad – in Europe especially – have been demanding SheSeek in their cities.
The demand for the application makes sense. Finding things to do in an unfamiliar city or even in one’s own city can be a confusing experience, and if you are part of a small segmented community like LGBT women, the search is even more confusing. If you are in college, identify as queer and want a mixed party at an underground venue, you’re going to be looking for something entirely different from a power lesbian in a suit. Also, lesbian and queer parties rise and fall like short-lived feudal empires; this month’s red hot party may be gone in a few months’ time. Finally, some events for LGBT women are held in spaces that are not always gay. It is so hard to keep track of it all. (As to the final point, SheSeek assigns gold stars to venues that are always gay and silver stars to venues that are gay on some nights.)
The other factors that have contributed to the demand are accessibility and instant gratification. Who wants to spend time Googling when you have an application that instantly tells you what venues and events are near based on where you are standing? Studies have shown that people searching for restaurants on mobile platforms have close to a 90% conversion rate. When people want to eat, drink or have fun, they want answers, and they want those answers instantaneously. And also, if you are in an unfamiliar city, how are you going to find print listings for events if the only places that carry print listings are LGBT venues themselves, and you need to find those venues in order to find the listings?
Currently, the application is only available for iPhone, but SheSeek hopes to release an Android app in the next few months. Says Zinn, “We got a ton of requests for an Android version, and although it is more difficult to develop for Android than for iPhone, we are sure that we are going to do it. Android is the most popular platform in Europe, so we can serve the international market as we go forward.”