February 26, 2013

Location-based services are coming of age (and it’s way more than Foursquare)

3 iphone-screenshots
From left, screenshots of the new app Now, EyeEm and Gogobot.

Geolocation apps start to splinter into verticals

This is the second in an ongoing series on the state of geolocation apps, sites and services. Also see:
• Part 1: Are you ready for the place graph?

Target audience: Startups, entrepreneurs, businesses with location-based components, educators, journalists, general public.

JD LasicaIn part one of this series we looked back at the early days of geolocation, with Platial kicking off the geoloco revolution in the practically prehistoric year of 2005. Since then, a number of paradigm-shifting startups have already come, gone or been sold, among them fwix, Loopt, Ditto, Blockboard, Everyblock (shut down this month) and the late lamented NextStop and Whrrl.

geologo-logoOn Sunday Josh Williams, former founder-CEO of Gowalla and now a product manager at Facebook, penned a great writeup on the early years of the Foursquare-Gowalla death match, spanning 2009-2010, before Foursquare emerged as the King of Check-In Mountain.

Now that the table has been set, what’s next for geolocation? Is it all about Foursquare, Yelp, yawn and go home?

I don’t think so. Instead, we’re seeing geolocation begin to splinter into niches and verticals. And, within a couple of years, geolocation capabilities will simply be baked into our everyday on-the-go lives.

From Silicon Valley and elsewhere, startups have emerged with powerful, useful geolocation capabilities central to their business model. As someone who’s as much an entrepreneur as a social strategist, I’m about to cast off into these choppy waters myself with a startup called Placely. (Come add your email addy to be notified when we’re ready to roll!)

Flavors of location: Travel, recommendations, geo-social & more

We’re still in the expansion, experimentation and buyout phase — before the inevitable contraction, consolidation and hand-wringing phase sets in

In surveying the competitive landscape, I’ve been struck by how diverse the geo landscape has become. We’re still in the expansion, experimentation and buyout phase — before the inevitable contraction, consolidation and hand-wringing phase sets in. Every week, it seems, I hear about a new startup doing something interesting with geolocation. (I still wish Gowalla had pivoted instead of selling to Facebook.)

Navigation apps like Waze and mapping sites (Google, Apple, Mapquest, Bing Maps) are all about location, but they’re too obvious to include here.

So what are the new breed of startups using location information in interesting new ways? Continue reading

January 28, 2013

Are you ready for the place graph?

Jason-Wilson
Jason Wilson, co-founder of Platial, in San Francisco on Thursday (iPhone photo by JD Lasica).

Platial helped pioneer place-based social networking

This is the first of a multi-part series on geolocation startups and services.

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, founders, startups, geolocation services, mobile ad networks, businesses, educators, journalists, general public.

JD LasicaFor years, entrepreneurs, tech observers and funders have known two things about the geolocation space: It holds an enormous amount of promise, and it’s taking an awfully long time to get there.

geologo-logoGeolocation startups are hot in Silicon Valley right now, from Zkatter, a San Francisco-based startup from British young gun Matt Hagger that wants you to capture and share moments in real time through mobile video, to Findery, the venture-backed San Francisco startup from Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake that wants you to leave notes, media and digital objects for others at specific locations.

What’s my connection with geoloco? For the past half year I’ve been working on a geolocation startup called Placely (register for the beta here). We’re still early in development, so I’ll talk more about our plans for Placely in a future post. But today I think it’s worth doing a quick survey of how far we’ve come (not very) and how far we still have to go as geolocation gets ready for its closeup. Continue reading

February 6, 2012

TaskRabbit: Crowdsourcing comes to your neighborhood

A mobile marketplace for getting stuff done from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

Start-up offers location-aware marketplace for getting stuff done

JD LasicaOne of my favorite new iPhone apps and online services is TaskRabbit, a platform that allows people to hire other people to complete tasks in their own towns or neighborhoods.

The concept is drop-dead simple but difficult to pull off. Founder Leah Busque says TaskRabbit lets folks “outsource small jobs and tasks to other people in their neighborhood” — say, if you need dry cleaning or groceries picked up, house cleaning or yard work done, Ikea furniture assembled or a wifi system set up in your home.

“We’ve seen some really funny ones,” Leah said, “like, ‘Help me write a love letter to my ex-girlfriend to help win her back.’ Or, ‘Help me prank my office mate by wrapping all of his desk items in cellophane.’”

Here’s my 8-minute interview with founder Leah Busque on Vimeo.

A simple way to connect customers with a local workforce

TaskRabbit works like this:

• Sign up on the site for free.

• Post a task — what do you need done and at what price? Use the app to voice-record a description and upload photos.

• The task goes out to participants (“TaskRabbits”) based on their location. They bid on your job, you confirm the best match, he or she goes to work, and TaskRabbit gets a small cut of the price.

Well over 2,000 people have signed up to perform tasks in Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, San Antonio and Austin, with Atlanta, Dallas and Houston on the way. The company’s vetting process includes online applications, video interviews and a background check, which greatly weeds out the flakes (my term, not hers). Trust, safety and security are at the heart of the marketplace, Leah says.

Unlike online services like Angie’s List, TaskRabbit is not marketing the services of licensed electricians, plumbers and carpenters but instead is targeting regular folks — individuals in a community who can offer their free time, special skills and services.

TaskRabbit has 35 full-time staffers at its San Francisco headquarters with “city managers” across the United States, and it has $24.7 million in financial backing, TechCrunch reports.

In a phrase, TaskRabbit is about service networking rather than social networking. Check ‘em out.

Related

Do you have a strategy for social bookmarking and crowdsourcing?

Book: ‘A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing’

March 25, 2009

Twiphlo: Making geolocation small & beautiful

Stowe BoydStowe Boyd, a longtime fixture in the tech and social media worlds, is joining Socialmedia.biz as a contributor and collaborating strategist. The following originally appeared in his blog /Message.

Geolocation tools fall into two broad categories:

  • Predictive location, generally oriented toward arranging to meet with other people when traveling to other places (like Dopplr and TripIt), or in your own town (like Mixin)
  • Location streaming, generally oriented to keeping others informed of location (like Google Latitude, DodgeBall, Plazes, or Brightkite), either for arranging meetings, or to maintain a geolocational lifestream.

I have used tools in both categories, and written about my experiences with them.

twiphloMost recently, I have been using Dopplr for predictive purposes, and Brightkite for location streaming. But in recent weeks, I have found that Brightkite is too rich an experience, overlapping too much with what I am doing with other tools, particularly Twitter as my primary lifestream, and the various blogs I maintain on Tumblr. Perhaps it is also that I don’t have a deep sense of community on Brightkite.

One thing in particular annoys me about Brightkite, and that is the Twitter integration. While they have provided a sophisticated template-based approach to posting tweets based on Brightkite location updates, the tool to support updating Twitter location in the user profile is just broken. When I post ’542 Brannan St, San Francisco CA 94107′ the Twitter location gets set to ’542 Brannan St’ dropping the city, state, and zip code.

I was quite happy to stumble upon a small but beautiful location streaming tool the other day, called Twiphlo. It seems like the main window is designed for a mobile interface use, like iPhone. The basic idea is that you can post something, while at the same time updating your Twitter profile location.

Continue reading