Students make app to show activities in LA

Marshall School of Business senior Josh Gorokhovsky and his cousin Jeffrey Morgenstein launched their app Oust in the Apple App store this summer, creating a real-time market platform of activities to do and places to go for Angelenos.

The process to create Oust has been in the works since 2013. Morgenstein, a UCLA alumnus, taught himself how to code and created the program for Oust from scratch. Gorokhovsky has focused on the design of the app, from the initial sketches on paper to developing the app design for the iPhone screen.

“How Oust looked in sketches on paper to what it is now is day and night,” Gorokhovsky said. “This, the way Oust looks now, is probably the 80th design.”

The idea for Oust was created as a solution to the boredom Morgenstein and Gorokhovsky faced while trying to decide what to do in Los Angeles. There was no simple solution that recommended specially curated activities. Sites such as Yelp require users to know what to search for beforehand. Sites such as Groupon give ideas of different activities but can’t guarantee a good vendor or experience. Gorokhovsky and Morgenstein felt they needed to create Oust to fill that void.

“Oust is a one-stop shop to figure out what you want to do. The best part about it is that most people haven’t heard of these activities,” Morgenstein said.

Gorokhovsky manually created the special curation of activities and places. The duo hopes to create an electronic mechanism to implement crawlers in order to help Gorokhovsky with his curation process.

“I find the places through a curating process that I’ve developed,” Gorokhovsky said. “Right now, it is all manual, and I’ve put the leg work in to find all these vendors.”

The automatic system that Morgenstein plans to create will enable the crawlers to cross reference various activity based blogs to curate activities.

Morgenstein and Gorokhovsky prioritized making the activity feed for users personal through the curation process. Oust uses data from Facebook and tracks the user’s preferences made within the app to create an experience tailored to each user.

“Ideally the app is like your best friend that knows what you like already,” Morgenstein said.

Gorokhovsky said he utilized the lessons he has learned and friends he has made at Marshall to create Oust.

“I took a lot of entrepreneurial classes that sort of gave me a leg up, especially with taking calculated steps and moving fast while I do it,” Gorokhovsky said. “Before I would see the problem and try to solve it on paper instead of just actually doing something about it.”

Gorokhovsky and Morgenstein have been working on the next steps for Oust. They plan to phase out vendors’ abilities to submit real time deals for customers on the same night on the app to drive business with potential customers. They also plan to partner with specific vendors to create the Oust Experience, which would be achieved through Oust forming partnerships with specific vendors and paying through the Oust app ahead of time.

The founders of Oust hope to have created an app that USC students will find useful and fun.

“We are working right now to secure more places around USC for students to go to, and we hope we can get some Trojan support,” Gorokhovsky said.

Alexis Hunter, a senior majoring in psychology, said she enjoys the app because of its efficiency.

“The interface is really great. It’s always good to have a pretty design and they do that well. I like the function too,” Hunter said. “If I can find something that is both cheap, and I could do it right now, I think that is the best selling point.”

Nicolette Canale, a senior majoring in biological sciences, said she appreciates the way Oust gives users a new way to make the best use of their time in Los Angeles.

“I think it’s really good that it’s real time,” Canale said. “When people are bored the first thing you do is scroll through your social media so if Oust taps into that boredom they could get a lot more people into the app.”