Get out: Wheedle app connects consumers, venues and promotions

Clevelanders like to go out, and local establishments want nothing more than to bring those folks in the door. A new app aims to make that connection happen.

Called Wheedle, the free mobile app allows consumers to view promotions from 60 area restaurants, bars and clubs, then request and book reservations directly with their favorite eatery or entertainment venue.

Want to know which bars are offering drink or appetizer specials? Wheedle's got the 411 right now.

Establishments using the app, meanwhile, can utilize Wheedle's ticketing platform to market and sell tickets, or customize promotions depending on time of day and other factors.
Launched last month by founders John Weston and Brian Stein, the app has 1,900 users on board. Wheedle's creators, housed at the Flashstarts technology and software business accelerator downtown, want to meld venue discovery, booking and ticketing into a single platform.
"The app can be used to find a place that serves lunch, or if you need a romantic table," says Stein. "Whatever your specific request, you can send it out and get back multiple, competitive offers."
Services like Open Table and Groupon only provide variables on what Wheedle collects in one place, its founders maintain. Stein and Weston, whose respective backgrounds include mobile app development and hospitality marketing, say they recognized a need from both consumers and venues that was not being fulfilled.
"I was a marketing consultant for clubs and bars in the area," Weston says. "We were always looking for a tool like this, but it didn't exist."
The business partners began working together in April 2014 after meeting at LaunchHouse. Obtaining funding and sending the app through a beta period took up the years before Wheedle hit the market.
Early reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, Stein notes. Wheedle recently won the FUND Conference in Chicago and was awarded $125,000 from North Coast Opportunities Technology Fund. The entrepreneurs have raised $725,000 in early funding, and next year look to garner between $3-$7 million once their brainchild is established.
Life for the innovators has been busy since Fire owner Doug Katz booked the very first Wheedle at another app customer's restaurant. Future plans include an expansion into Chicago, with New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Orlando also in the offing.
"We've been at this for two-and-a-half years, and momentum has built up until we're ready to shoot out like a bullet from a gun," says Stein. "We're excited for the ride." 

Read more articles by Douglas J. Guth.

Douglas J. Guth is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to Fresh Water, his work has been published by Midwest Energy News, Kaleidoscope Magazine and Think, the alumni publication of Case Western Reserve University. A die-hard Cleveland sports fan, he also writes for the cynically named (yet humorously written) blog Cleveland Sports Torture.