From games to dating, local app developers are putting the Valley’s tech scene on the map – and on Phoenicians’ phones

App-y Valley

Category: Lifestyle Issue: August 2016
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Social Monarq

Diana Murakhovskaya and her best friend Irene Ryabaya created Phoenix-based Social Monarq to help women find friends, a deceptively difficult task. Both worked in male-dominated commodities trading, where they realized how difficult it was to meet other like-minded women. So, they quit their jobs to travel and come up with an idea for a company. The result is Social Monarq, a friendship app for women. The app interface is similar to that of dating app Tinder, displaying potential friends and their interests courtesy of Facebook integration. If two women match, the app poses a question to get things started, and the individuals take over from there.



PHOENIX Magazine Travel App

A little self promotion never hurts, right? The Scottsdale-based PHOENIX Magazine travel app provides users with a breakdown of their travel options for each region in Arizona, as well as destinations in bordering states. If a user is going to Northern Arizona, they can select that region in the app and then a city within that region, like Flagstaff, and be presented with an evolving, curated list of hotels, eateries and more, as well as locally developed content written for both the print publication and the app itself. If a user is more interested in an activity than a specific location, the app is also broken up into categories of Eat, Stay and Play. This isn’t the magazine’s first foray into the app market, but it is the first not directly connected to the monthly publication, promising further user-friendliness and versatility – and it’s all free.


MotoGP Championship Quest

Sure, travel and social interaction are all fine and good, but there are few things more ubiquitously “tech” than a mobile game. Fortunately, the Valley app scene also offers MotoGP Championship Quest, a hybrid racing and fantasy motorsports game developed by Scottsdale-based WePlay Media. MotoGP is a motorbike racing circuit second only to Formula 1 in global motorsport popularity. The app functions in concert with the MotoGP Fan World Championship, in which digital representations of actual riders battle for first place over the course of a year. In the app, users choose a rider to play, and if they do well in a race against other players and their chosen riders, their rider climbs the standings of the Fan World Championship. In other words, the app is essentially fantasy racing, but instead of luck and statistical prowess, users are tested on their proficiency with their thumbs and their phone’s accelerometer. Even the real-life riders have gotten behind the game, sending out encouraging Tweets to their followers to bring them to the top of the virtual leaderboard.



Not to sound troglodytic, but there is a certain personal connection missing in today’s digitized dating world. Encounter, a Phoenix-based dating app, seeks to provide that je ne sais quoi. “I like to think of it as the dating personal assistant,” says founder and CEO Alisa Adkins. “All of the dating apps in the industry today focus on the digital connection, but not the physical one.” To solve this problem, users who match on the app have to go on a date together before messaging each other directly. To that effect, the app is integrated with Yelp to help users choose a date spot to their liking, and with Uber to make sure everyone gets there and back safely. After the date concludes, the app opens the possibility for the potential young lovers to message each other through the app, but only if they both agree to do so. The app has around a thousand users for now, but Adkins is planning a big push for more users in the near future.