Student website offers visitors a night on the town

From the vantage point of University Park Campus, the skyline of Downtown sometimes feels like little more than a distant promise of the bustle of commerce and events. Many students feel at a loss to find out what’s actually going on in the heart of the city.

Melissa Shamooilian | Daily Trojan

That’s exactly what three USC seniors wondered last summer, prompting the creation of, a website that tells visitors what’s happening on any given night in Downtown Los Angeles.

NiteFlip focuses on events, concerts, D.J. bar appearances, restaurants, lounges and more. The site was designed to provide all the information needed for a night out in Downtown.

NiteFlip is the brainchild of seniors Jason Raede, a senior majoring in international relations, and Yoav Weiss, a senior majoring in architecture, but the pair recruited Ana Mazdyasni, a senior majoring in public relations, to launch and promote the site. The idea was born one night when Raede and Weiss were looking for something to do on an “off” night but couldn’t find any advertised events. When they realized there was no definitive resource compiling all the events happening Downtown, they created their own source for nightlife information.

“We looked online, and we were like, ‘For sure there’s a website we can use,’” Raede said. “Then we couldn’t find anything, so we thought, ‘For sure we’re on to something.’”

They wanted to create a service that provided USC students with the latest information on local deals and nightly specials happening around campus. And from there, was born.

“Our big thing is what is happening right now and what is happening when you want to go out,” Weiss said.

Though still in its beginning stages, NiteFlip caters to USC students and those who live in the greater Downtown area.

Raede and Weiss had previously started a web design company that focused on small businesses, so they felt technically prepared to make a site that is first and foremost user friendly. Impressively enough, they created the website and all of its contents and features themselves.

NiteFlip was designed to take the work out of looking for what to do. Visitors to the site can see what is happening right now and at any date or time in the future using a “smart search” feature that Raede and Weiss created.

The two search online, make phone calls and track down word-of-mouth specials to compile all the events listed on their site. NiteFlip is updated every day with new events and venues.

“A lot of these places don’t really advertise their promotions, or the information isn’t really that accessible,” Mazdyasni said.

You can also browse by event type — D.J. sets, drink specials or happy hours, for example. Users also have the option of searching by venue, including Downtown bars, clubs, pubs, lounges and restaurants.

For a general idea of events, there is a weekly calendar that tracks entertainment options by area or type. Once users set up a login, they’re able to designate their favorite venues and personalize settings that make events appear in their personal calendars.

NiteFlip is heavily dependent on user input and feedback. All members are encouraged to submit events and venues. The idea, the creators said, is to eventually have users keep the site running on their submissions. Raede and Weiss also hope to incorporate reviews sometime in the future.

The site’s founders also created a mobile version of NiteFlip to make the service accessible on smart phones. For ease of access, they’re also working to create free iPhone and Blackberry applications, and users can share NiteFlip through Twitter, MySpace and Facebook.

Although NiteFlip is up and running, the majority of the site’s most complicated features are still works in progress.

One of Raede and Weiss’ more unique goals is to eventually create the “Flip My Nite” feature where users can input where they want to go, how many stops they would like to make and what kind of events or venues they’re looking for. With that information, NiteFlip can then create an instant city crawl plan.

The site’s planned NitePoints will also be a plus for regular users. Points will be earned by submitting venues and events to the database as well as ratings and reviews, which will eventually reward users with gift cards and NiteFlip apparel.

“We haven’t worked out the details yet, but we want to encourage people to use the site to have it be mutually beneficial,” Weiss said.

NiteFlip is the first of its kind to cater to USC students, Mazdyasni stressed that the site was truly created with everyone in mind. This site is useful whether you are a student or not; it is designed for anyone who wants to experience Downtown.

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