Creator Val Arzunian says the seed for UBMe was planted after he and his then-girlfriend decided to go their separate ways. “We kept running into each other,” he explains. “It was awkward. That’s what got me thinking it would be great if there was a piece of technology to tell me where people are.” Rather than wait for the app stores to catch up, Arzunian got to work. “It was me at home in my room for about two and a half to three years building it,” he recalls.
Although Arzunian was starting from scratch, the New Jersey native had the drive, know-how and curiosity to make it happen. “When I got my first computer, I was the kid that downloaded every virus and then tried to fix it,” he says. In 2013, several years after he moved to the Lehigh Valley, he started the online marketing company Social Horizon, which he still operates today. Prior to that, he founded an online food delivery business (think Grubhub before there was Grubhub). Finally, UBMe launched in August of 2017. And, as Arzunian explains it, the finished product ended up being much more than a means to bypass encounters with an ex.
UBMe has about 20,000 users...2,000 of them are based in the Lehigh Valley.
“It’s an app that lets you see what’s happening around you, and connect with the people who are out there.” It’s also hyper-local, and, according to Arzunian, fills a void left by popular social media sites like Facebook. “You see what’s happening globally, but you don’t know what’s happening around you,” he says. So how does it work? A user checks in at a local destination—anything from a bar to a sporting event to a college campus—and then can immediately join a live chat with others who are at the same place. They can also read reviews, find events and make connections with potential love interests by exchanging information through the app—meaning no more phone numbers scribbled down on cocktail napkins.
Businesses can use UBMe to connect with customers and interact with them in real time. The advantage for those businesses, Arzunian says, is that any particular post they make will be seen by all UBMe users within a 15-mile radius, and not just by their followers. UBMe also offers dozens of local, exclusive deals on everything from a case of wine to a fitness class.
Although it’s based in South Bethlehem and prides itself on digging into the local flavor that separates one neighborhood from the next, the team behind UBMe, which also includes David Pulsifer, who joined the company as a co-founder in November of 2017, is looking at the bigger picture. “Our app is and can be used everywhere,” Arzunian says. UBMe has about 20,000 users; only about 2,000 of them are based in the Lehigh Valley. In the future, the company is looking to expand its foothold in Philadelphia and then move on to other cities: Pittsburgh, Boston and New York are all possibilities. Still, there’s no rush. The UBMe crew wants to take it slow and do it right, says Arzunian. “We try to build up one community at a time.”