Michelle Jensen has a dream to unite all the nerds around the globe. And she’s making her dream into a reality with a mobile app she created called NERD OUT. Living in Los Angeles, Michelle works in the Film & Television industry, and enjoys geeking out on Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Orphan Black, Sherlock, & just about everything Nerdy. Now, she’s created a mobile calendar app for information on geek events all over the world.
Where are you from? Growing up, what did you geek out on? What books, comics, TV shows, movies, characters were you into?
I was born in Stony Brook, NY. My mother and I moved to Orange County, CA when I was 6 months old, then moved back to Long Island, NY at 6 years old. After graduating high school I moved back to Orange County, CA. When I was 20 I moved up to Los Angeles. I guess you can say I’m certifiably bi-coastal! First thing I can recall geeking out on was Disney films and TV series. My mom tells me that I had every word of ‘The Lion King’ memorized. As I got into my teens it was ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ ‘Charmed,’ and ‘Angel.’ The first book I really got into was the Harry Potter series. I was one of those kids who didn’t like stuff that other kids liked, purely cause it was the ‘popular’ thing so I avoided the series till I saw a commercial for the first film. I wasn’t much into comics as a kid; I’ve grown to appreciate them as an adult. They really are works of art. As for characters I’d say that I always felt close to Simba and then later on Buffy Summers.
What are you geeking out on now?
‘Orphan Black’ and ‘Game of Thrones’! I can’t wait for them to start. April to about June/July is the best time for me because both of them are on TV. I just bought my Apple TV pass for ‘Orphan Black’ yesterday. I’m super excited about this season! I think I would crumble if I met Tatiana Maslany. I’d love to visit the ‘Game of Thrones’ filming locations. Since they shoot multiple units at once with such a giant cast I’m sure it’s a pain for the production, but they do it so fabulously. I’m also a Natalie Dormer fan so I love that she’s on the show. I admired her since her days on ‘The Tudors.’
In the summer of 2013, you started your blog: Your Friend Elle – A Blog for Film, TV, Fashion, Travel, & Makeup. What made you create the blog? How has your life changed since its inception?
It was actually because a high school friend started one. She got about two posts in and stopped, I kept going. I named it Your Friend Elle because I wanted to write it as if I was writing a letter to a friend, hence your friend, Elle. Which is short for Michelle; it also made for a shorter URL. At the time I had a studio job that I had done for 3 years so I could do it in my sleep. The blog helped to fill the time at work. Then when I left that studio and had bouts of unemployment between shows it became my solace. I figured I could sit around staring at my email or waiting for the phone to ring or I could write an article once a day to have something to accomplish. During that time the blog started to pick up some steam. The blog was the inspiration for Nerd Out so it really has changed my life.
You’ve recently created a Mobile App called NERD OUT, which is right up our alley! We love it here at DorkUp. Can you tell our readers about NERD OUT? What is it? What made you create it?
Apps always start as an idea. How did you take NERD OUT from idea to reality?
April 2015 to August 2015 was a LOT of planning. Basically I did a ton of research. First to figure out if there was anything else like it. I found webpages that listed cons or just events for a certain city, but nothing on the scale of Nerd Out. I also did research on starting a business, as I’ve never had one before. As well as researching app companies and social media marketing. It was a ton of work. I was also working on a TV series full time mind you. We launched in August and have made various modifications since to try to bring nerds the best possible app. We also have been adding new listings monthly. We’re only 8 months in and I’m very proud of what we have achieved. We only have bigger and better plans from here on out.
On NERD OUT, how do you find & keep track of all the various events around the world? What types of events do you cover on NERD OUT?
Google, Google, Google! It’s a ton of research. I think a lot of people think I have a magic algorithm or something but it’s just a lot of research and entering in manually. It’s why we don’t add areas/cities too quickly. I’d rather have a smaller number of locations with a ton of stuff, than a sparse calendar that’s not useful. Quality over quantity. We list everything from big cons to smaller local stuff. We’ve had some really interesting stuff on there lately! Events such as a lawn gnome convention, lightsaber battles, Wizard of Oz burlesque shows, and Back to the Future Enchantment Under the Sea parties. That’s just to name a few.
On your team, you have Event Manager Monica, and Artists Jenna Yenik & Amanda Corbett. How did you put together your team to create your own Justice League?
Monica is, as she says, the ‘Nerd Out cheerleader’. I met her just after I came up with the idea for Nerd Out, but didn’t talk to her about working together till about September/October I think. She’s a part of the Whovian Complex so I knew she’d be well versed in nerdom. She was also a reader of Your Friend Elle, it’s how we originally met. I had also seen her at a few of the Geek Girl Brunch meetups so I got to know her before I asked her to jump on board. For me the most important thing about being a part of Nerd Out is that you a) are a nerd, and b) believe in the mission which is helping unite nerds. She’s absolutely both and it’s been a joy for me to have her on board. Amanda is a friend who I did a post on for Your Friend Elle. I had discovered her art on an ‘Orphan Black’ Facebook group and thought she was amazing (still is!). She did version one of the Nerd Out artwork which we just swapped out for Jenna’s. Someone sent me Jenna’s Instagram when I was searching for a new artist. She did a fantastic job with the new artwork. People have really responded to it.
Where can we get NERD OUT? Is there any cost?
You can get Nerd Out on android (Google play store) or apple (app store). It’s absolutely free!
What is the NERD SQUAD? Tell us how to join!
The Nerd Squad is basically a street team for Nerd Out. They help spread the word and submit events. Since we’re based in Los Angeles, it’s really valuable to have members across the US and in the UK that know of local places having events. They’ve been really integral in getting more content up on the app. We all do it to help each other. If you submit an event, and it’s useful to another nerd, that’s what it’s all about!
NERD OUT also has a YouTube page. What types of videos do you post there?
Right now it’s just our campaign video back from August, but we will be having more content in the new couple weeks. We have some stuff in the works and the Youtube page is one of the things we’re working on. We have a ton of events we’ll be at so we’ll be filming soon. Keep an eye out for updates!
We found out about NERD OUT at WonderCon 2016. Have you been touring various conventions? How has the convention circuit been for you?
Oh awesome! Wondercon was awesome wasn’t it!? We’ve been doing local cons. Since I do work full time on a TV series, I can’t go too far. We’ve been lucky to have some fantastic people like Regine (Women in Comics Collective NYC) that spread the word at other cons. But for right now, I’ll only be doing local cons. It’s been really great. What’s interesting is that cons have different tones. Wondercon and SDCC are very high energy. Some of the more niche cons are smaller but very passionate. It’s interesting to see.
Are there any upcoming conventions where we can find you & your NERD OUT team?
Pokeoasis, Whedonopolis, possibly SDCC, and Comikaze. We have a few others that are possibilities.
You’ve been very generous with your time! Thank you for this interview, and we look forward to using NERD OUT! I’ve already dove in, created my profile, and added events to my calendar! (find me ‘sean’ on the app)
Be sure to check out the various NERD OUT websites: