The New York Post anointed Michael Capponi (left) the “Godfather of Miami Nightlife.” At the age of 19 in 1992 British Vogue named him to its “Who’s Who of Miami” list. Widely credited for helping revitalize South Beach and now a successful real estate developer in 2014 he teamed up with software wizard Gideon Kimbrell to launch InList. A members’ only app it enables elite travelers to arrange VIP tables and treatment and nightclubs around-the-world with a few taps of their smart phones. Recently Elite Traveler Editor-in-Chief Doug Gollan spoke with the duo in Miami.
ET: Tell us how this app changes nightlife?
Michael Capponi: We watched the nightlife scene go through so many different evolutions. At one point if you didn’t know the doorman or the owner you weren’t going to get into a club unless you walked in with a VIP. Little by little access started being granted though different ways, through passwords, mail invitations, and email, eventually it got really commercialized, and it went back to mass invitations on Facebook. A lot of the nightlife industry became really commercialized. I’ve jumped back and forth between future and present. So this mobile app is basically the future of nightlife just as Uber is creating the future of transportation. It’s the same thing. It’s a massive interlinked data system where we have an idea of who all the true VIPs and elite traveler guests are all over the world. We’ve already established the relationships with all the key people in the industry in all the major cities. So in two seconds, as soon as you get to London, it’s going to tell you where you should go tonight.
ET: Gideon, tell us a little about your personal background.
Gideon Kimbrell: My story is like your classical American dream story. I came from nothing. I grew up in a log cabin in Montana. I didn’t have electricity growing up. I got my hands on a computer when I was 15 years old. I tore it apart, and then I fixed it. This computer was my connection to the outside world, and I got addicted to technology at a very early start. I learned along the way that one of the failed tenants of the American dream is that people think that if you work hard you’ll get there, which isn’t necessarily true. You have to work smart and hard.
ET: How would you describe how the app works?
GK: It is location based, so when a user lands in any given city the app will show the user an elite set of events. We only want to give the users two to three options on any given night. That’s why it’s called InList. Those are really the only places you want to be. There might be ten or fifteen clubs open today, but you want to be seen at the ones on the app. These events are going to be where you can see celebrities. You’re going to see the in crowd and the local socialites.
MC: Membership is free. When you book a reservation it is handled as a request, and then a in some cases a credit card is required to hold it to reserve it with the venue. Ninety-nine percent of the time users pay at the venue when they arrive. We deal with the venues afterwards. It’s better for the customer. In fact we’re making it more exclusive. We’re allowing the clubs to screen more, and help the important people get in.
ET: So the app knows who is an A-list client and who isn’t?
GK: Right. We have a different prioritization system. We have an idea of who everybody is. It’s our job to make sure we’re putting the right people into the right club.
ET: Beyond clubs, do you see the possibility to expand?
MC: We have our platinum and diamond members right off the bat. We’re offering them help with a variety of services from jets, to villas, and shopping plus theater, sports and special events. Nightlife is a $20 billion industry. It takes a lot of different forms. So there are nightclubs, special events, galas, and boxes at events. For InList the market is huge. It’s a lot larger than just nightclubs. There will be party access at the Oscars, Cannes Film Festival and things like that.