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Posted on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 5:55 a.m.

Ann Arbor company releases happy hour iPhone app

By Jessica Webster


Visualization Network's new iOS Happy Hour app helps you find happy hour deals in 6 Michigan cities.

Planning a post-work drink with friends, but not sure which area bar or restaurant has the best happy hour deals? There's an app for that, and a local entrepreneur is behind it.

Tom Crawford, owner of Visualization Network, says he developed his new Happy Hour iOS app when he found himself scrambling for information about area happy hours.

"If this is a problem I am having, I need to come up with a solution," Crawford said in a phone interview.

When it launched on Friday, the Happy Hour app covered the downtown areas of six of the most walkable cities in southeast Michigan, said Crawford, but there are more to come.

"We started with Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Detroit, Royal Oak, Ferndale and Birmingham because there are so many bars you can walk to," said Crawford. "A city like Westland has amazing bars, but you have to drive to them."

Crawford hopes to branch out in circles from Detroit, eventually adding cities in Ohio and beyond.

"We’re already wrapping up the research today on Kalamazoo and Lansing/East Lansing. Those will be added this week if everything goes well. Rochester and Troy will come after that."

Rather than relying on Yelp or other sites, Crawford has a team of three people calling bars and restaurants directly.

"The reality of this data is that it doesn’t exist anywhere in one central place," said Crawford. "We are actually hand calling every location. It’s a very time-intensive and labor-heavy process, but it's the only way to get reliable information."

The app is free to users; Visualization Network covers costs by selling featured listings. Sava and Babo were the company's first advertisers in Ann Arbor.

Jessica Webster leads the Food & Grocery section for Reach her at You also can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

I downloaded the app and tried to use it three different time. It's definitely lacking in usability and information. You can only search be location and not establishment name and the listings that come up seem to repeat in random order. It needs quite a lot of work. The interface is not intuitive at all.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

Definitely lacking info as far as at least one or two places I can think of just off the top of my head that aren't listed and rather unsophisticated as far as iOS apps go, but at least now I can see why it's free.

Andy Price

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

Are you sure you're not just looking at a one-mile radius? That was MY mistake the first time I used it.

An Arborigine

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

Gosh I love technology, this is what entrepreneurship is all about!


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

I think the app is technically called "Happy Hour Deals". Multiple apps come up if you search for "Happy Hour", but paging through them, the screenshot of the app seems to match Happy Hour Deals.

Jessica Webster

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

Good point. The app is called Happy Hour, but it appears to be listed as "Happy Hour Deals" on iTunes. The VizNetwork app is the one you want.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

This is a great example of an issue I've noticed in the tech world. On one hand you typically need a 'critical mass' of people to make it a worthwhile investment for the creator, but many situations where an app would be useful is limited to a small market. There are already dozens of happy hour apps out there but I would never bother with them unless I was a frequent traveler as I wouldn't trust the app to be accurate. It sounds like Crawford has a plan for keep information up to date in the short term so hopefully that is that case as if I went out of my way to a bar or restaurant for a special I found on the app only to find it was wrong I would probably never touch the app again.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

I've noticed that to be an issue, also. I've looked at happy hour websites and then will get to the restaurant and find out its wrong. I've always just called the restaurant directly to find out a deal. It could be very useful as long as it's updated.

Jessica Webster

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

Kyle - Crawford and his team plan to call all the bars and restaurants and update all deals quarterly, but he also asks that people submit feedback through a link on the app.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

This is a great idea! I hope a smartphone app is next.

Jessica Webster

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

Tom Crawford told me that DROID and Windows apps are on the development plan, but that he wants to get a good pool of users with the iPhone/iPad app first.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

Cue up Madd. They won't like it at all.

Jessica Webster

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

While you make a good point, I think Crawford was cognizant of this issue when he chose the cities he did for this app. His focus was on cities where you can walk to bars.