Howler Targets a Variety of Business Sectors for Its Beacon-Based Services

The startup has deployed 600 Kontakt.io Bluetooth beacons at 150 stores and other sites in Boston, so that Howler app users can receive location-specific content tightly focused on their interests.
By Claire Swedberg
May 05, 2015

Boston-based startup Howler Apps is pursuing a national client-base for its new beacon-based advertising solution that allows Howler app users to capture location-specific content tailored to their interests and behaviors at stores, hotels, restaurants and hospitals. Initially, the company has installed 600 Kontakt.io Bluetooth beacons at about 150 businesses, including Orange Leaf a frozen yogurt store in Boston (approximately 60 percent of the businesses are restaurants, while 40 percent are other retailers). In addition, several doctor's offices are now using the system in trials involving the tracking of equipment and personnel.

Howler is also launching its solution in Las Vegas, where the company will market the technology to casinos, hotels, coffee shops, stores, restaurants, bars and other businesses. To date, the beacons have been installed at about 12 locations throughout the Nevada city, where several thousand users have downloaded the app.

The Howler smartphone app
The system allows businesses to push promotional data to app-using customers in the area, and also collects data about shoppers and their behaviors for analytical purposes. While other companies offer similar beacon-based solutions, Howler is different, says Hunter Gaylor, the firm's co-founder and CEO, since it is intended for users nationwide for any sector—for instance, hotels, stores, stadiums and health care.

Howler's cloud-based software collects analytical data that can be of use to beacon-using businesses, as well as future customers. For instance, the software knows how much time an individual spent at a specific store, and how many app users did or did not respond to a particular advertisement. As the software collects more specific information, it will be able to provide demographic data regarding those who are interested in that ad. Because a user signs up for the app via the Facebook Login service, the app pulls information such as age and gender from that person's Facebook account, and then uses his or her postings to glean behavioral details, such as the fact that the individual doesn't eat certain foods, or prefers a particular kind of drink or clothing item. For example, Gaylor says, the app software might determine that an individual is a vegan, and would consequently not deliver any ads for steak dinners.

Over time, as more people download the app, Howler also intends to collect analytical data regarding neighborhoods (there have been about 10,000 Howler app downloads in the Boston area so far). For instance, Howler knows how many of its users walk down a certain street, as well as what their interests are, and can provide that demographic and traffic data to a business before it opens up a new store or restaurant on that street.

The company was founded in 2014 by Gaylor and Joseph Viscomi, now Howler's software builder. Viscomi is also the founder of Illinois-based company Greplytix, which offers personnel-evaluation software for education, health care and other markets. In the case of health care, Viscomi says, Greplytix offers a solution known as the Automated Duty Hour Tracking system, consisting of Greplytix's MedInsight app and Howler beacon technology to help hospitals automatically collect the work-time hours of its employees based on their locations as they work.

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