By Jake James
Asbury Pulp Contributor
Hey. Over the years, as I wrote about websites I started to lose the thrill as time went by. Yeah – getting kicked out of my basement bedroom in my parent’s house that time and becoming homeless probably didn’t do a whole lot for my mood. Thank God Paxil did. But more than that, websites started to get boring. By the time I headed to Russia with one of my roommates from Bradley Beach, who was from Russia, everything was all Facebook it seemed.
I didn’t dig it. Here’s why: Facebook is like the Evil Empire or something. It started cool, but didn’t ya’ know it was just going to have turn lame some day – which it now is? Now, they have to sell all kinds of ads and do a lot of other sneaky crap to keep their stock price up. I know what I’m talking – my day job exploits my idiot savant-like ability to process algorithms for a giant global firm that’s kinda taking over the world. I’m not allowed to say which one. Like Facebook, they are a big bloated mess busy with nothing but advertising this or that and really do nothing but sucking all the air out of the room.
Now – I kinda get the feeling things are changing a bit though. That’s why I like writing for the Pulp. It’s something new and full of cool people who really try to do things in a different way and have fun doing it. It’s got spirit. It’s not some big nasty mess.
So I’m happy to be writing about websites again – and happy to see that there’s some exciting stuff going on. More grassroots stuff that’s got good attitude.
Which brings me to Fizzle Fire – fizzlefire.com – this week’s website.
I’m constantly searching for websites up and down the shore – yeah, using Google, which still ain’t bad from an Evil Empire-standpoint – and come up with all sorts of stuff. Fizzle Fire caught my eye on about the 30th page or something after typing in Long Branch, NJ. (I basically just hang in most nights digging the best FiOS package known to man. My love life has never worked out so good.)
I jumped into the Fire.
Fizzle Fire is a site which lets you join, like Facebook, but has a purpose. You enter your zip code and it tells you things to do in the area. I took if for a test drive and sure enough, events all around Red Bank popped up.
Now, you can tell it’s not some slick city site. Or some monster, like Facebook or Foursquare. But, those sites weren’t when they started, too. I’m sure some tinkering under the hood is gonna happen – just as it happened with those other sites. That’s a good thing! Right now, its big thing is this: It’s the doing. Something. Something different. And kinda cool. And all your own. By one of our own. And, as they say on TV, “It really, really works!”
I e-mailed Fizzle Fire to get some more info, and its owner and founder got right back to me.
His name is Kevin Johnston, and he’s got a pretty good story. I think I even met him once when my mom got glasses at the store he used to have in Red Bank. Kevin wrote the following to me about him and the Fizzle Fire
I have always had the entrepreneurial spirit. I opened my first business when I was 20, a sunglass shop in Red Bank. It was at 5 Broad Street, where Red is now. I was there for years but then Red Bank started its boom and my landlord more than doubled the rent, I decided to go off to something new.
Toward the end of the sunglass shop in Red Bank I started building my first website. I started by looking at other websites’ source code to figure out how to build a site; that was where my programming skills started to develop. In the late 90’s I opened U.S. Lens Center, a contact lens website that I sold many years later.
After the sale of US Lens Center, I opened Optical Elements in Pier Village, Long Branch. Optical Elements was a high-end optical boutique. While owning Optical Elements I had my two children and moved to Long Branch where I currently live today. In 2008, the economy unfortunately got the best of me and I needed to close down and went corporate (boooo!). All the while, I have also been doing websites and learning an array of computer and web programming languages, leading me to FizzleFire.com
FizzleFire Inc. was really started out of necessity. Having young kids at home, we are always looking for things to do that the kids would like as well. At present you need to go to at least 10 – 15 event calendar pages to get a good idea of what is going on in your area. Half of it is crap and the half is stuff that you really don’t care about.
So on April 29th 2012 I started hatching my plans for fizzlefire.com. Next was how to make it different. Instead of just categorizing the events we decided to break them down to specific interests. If we were going to be handling all events in the area (eventually the country), just having categories was too broad. Honestly, until I started this site I never realized how many towns do movies in the park or on the beach. In the summer you can see a movie almost every night of the week!
I have lived in NJ for 37 years now and I have learned more about the events that go on in the area in the last four months then I ever knew. Not only is this a great resource for the user, but the amount of extra exposure that a person, company, organization can get is priceless. Everything on the system is location-specific including, the free sponsored ads for the event holders. Every event page has an attend button at the bottom.
If you click the attend button you will be asked if you would like to make it public or private. If private is chosen no one will see you are attending and if public your friends will see. No matter which you choose the system will send you a reminder email the day before the event.
We are also going to have FizzleFire Exclusive offers for our users. If an event holder wants to offer FizzleFire.com members a discount or some promotion if they click attend, the event holder will get a VIP list of all members that have clicked ‘attend’ and their email addresses for their mailing list. We will also send an email about the event to everyone within a 50 mile radius to help promote the event. Another feature for the user is the alternate location calendar. Once we have gone national this will be a great tool for our users. If the user is going on vacation they can set up the alternate location and see what is going on locally where they will be travelling to. This feature can certainly enhance any vacation you may go on. We are also currently working on the mobile web version of the site. We are utilizing the GPS function of your phone so we will be able to give you your event calendar instantly no matter where you travel in the U.S.
When on the website you may see some features that are similar to other social networking sites that shall remain nameless. We did this not to copy them but to give users some of the tools they are accustomed to. FizzleFire is trying for 10,000 NJ members by year’s end! FizzleFire Inc. also has some other ideas brewing that make the future of the company very exciting
Social networking and events calendars have been around a long time now. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel; we are just trying to give you a smoother ride.
Every part of FizzleFire Inc. and FizzleFire.com has been produced and run by myself. I do currently have a couple friends that help monitor the sign-up process and check for user issues as well as monitor the events that get entered and sometimes enter some themselves. But to date the company has been completely dreamt, built and funded by me.
That is why I chose the photo I sent, I might as well be the photographer too
- Kevin Johnston
Kevin’s story made me so happy. It’s better than Paxil. You gotta dig someone busting his ass and putting it on the line like that. Seems to me that Kevin isn’t the type of fool to sit back and just accept things the way they are. He’s taking a chance – and I urge everyone to take a chance on Fizzlefire.com. Hey – it’s free! What have you got to lose?
- E-Mail me at JakeJames200@yahoo.com with
any websites for me to check out. Hey – it’s what I do.