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May 04, 2017

Philly-founded app is like Pokémon Go for real-life experiences

Technology Apps
Enye app Enye/Contributed Art

The logo for enye.

Pokémon Go, the app that revived a staple of the "'90s kids" nostalgia genre and updated it for the smartphone era, combined two elements that led to its wild initial success: reliance on devices to constantly give us something to do and the inherently human desire to explore.

Yet what if the app focused more on the latter?

It might look something like enye, which is currently available on iTunes but is getting its official launch this week. Instead of Pokémon, you search the map around you for digital piñatas, which are dropped by other users. You have to physically go to a piñata to find out what's inside, and the contents could theoretically be anything: a bar recommendation, an event happening in the area, a mural hidden off a side street.

Philly-based technology professionals Kevin Chemidlin, 25, and Jacob Jordan, 28, began concocting the idea for enye last year. In an interview with PhillyVoice, Chemidlin explained how the app works, recent updates and plans for the future of enye, which currently has about 200 users and is available for iOS devices. 

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Keeping it as brief as possible, without short-selling it, could you summarize what your app does?

Enye is a new social media platform that lets you drop digital piñatas onto the map. Whether you drop a piñata for your friends, for your followers or for the general public, it can only be opened at the location it was dropped. The contents of the piñata could be anything and can connect you with the story of that location: what is happening, has happened or will happen at that very spot!

Some of the piñata ideas our users have already had include scavenger hunts, time-machine piñatas, pop-up musical performances, a map of a user's favorite restaurants and even just "Hey, I'm here having a beer, come join!" There are more whimsical ones too – you never know what you'll find!

The description kind of reminds me of Pokémon Go but with real-life experiences as the prizes, no?

Yes, it's very similar! It's very much like Pokémon Go, but the PokeStops change every day, and the content is actually made by people, not algorithms. And, you choose who to follow, so you get a customized view, rather than Pokémon Go, where everybody sees the same thing. One of our users told us that he now kills time by walking around opening piñatas with friends – I don't know about you, but that's how I used to use Pokémon Go!

Another big differentiator here between Pokémon Go and other map-based apps is the user profiles. You can create a map of piñatas for anything you want, build a following and discover amazing things around you from the profiles you follow. 

How’d you come up with the idea?

Jacob and I met at a networking event last summer, and we talked about how we have such a passion for sharing experiences. Jacob is a big-time traveler and foodie, and I am a huge Philly nerd. We wanted a platform to be able to show off the when and where of all our favorite things. At the same time, every time we stumbled upon some hidden gem or event while wandering the city, we couldn't help but think about how many hundreds of amazing things we've missed just because we walked down the wrong street! We took these passions, were inspired by the pure joy and celebration culture surrounding piñatas, and enye was born.

Is this app just available in Philly right now? If so, any plans on expansion?

Technically, the app is available all over North America, but most of our users are here in Philly, and there are already piñatas in multiple countries. We're focused on building the community here first because we both love the city so much. Our first special event is this Friday, where local Latin American restaurants will be featuring Cinco de Mayo exclusives. For example, El Rey will be dropping a piñata at their Cinco de Mayo Block Party with a special surprise inside! We see enye as the next big thing, so we definitely plan to expand big and fast. But, we're starting here at home.

What’s the big update coming Wednesday?

Wednesday we'll be adding user profiles, which allow you to make your own map of piñatas for people to follow. You can build a following and drop piñatas for your followers! As you explore the piñatas that others have dropped, you can follow users that post the best ones and completely customize your map to see the piñatas that are most relevant to you.

This interview has been edited slightly for brevity and clarity. You can download enye on iTunes here.