Chicago-basedÂ EvzdropÂ is a new location-based interest networkÂ that makes place the center of the social/mobile/local experience. Rather than following people like on other social networks, Evzdrop users follow places.
The idea behind Evzdrop is simple: it allows anyone to eavesdrop on the happenings at specific points of interest around the world in real-time.
Co-founder David Rush came up with the idea after encountering a better-than-expected appetizer at a New York restaurant.
I started thinking about how valuable that information would be to others coming to the restaurant that nightâ€¦people I didn’t even know but shared a common interest with â€“ the place â€“ and who didn’t know in advance what they might want to order.
I saw an opportunity to give people a real lens into sentiment and opinion from only people at the place at that moment in time. I realized that this could apply to places well beyond restaurants where location, real-time and exclusive insight would be valuable.
Users make a Drop, or a “micro-insight” into their experience. These Drops can then allow other people to listen into what’s happening at that particular location. The Drops can only come from people inÂ specificÂ places, and are accessible both to a particular user’s network and to the Evzdrop network at large.
The resulting feed is one that is place specific, rather than personÂ specific, allowing users to get an idea of who is experiencing what at their favorite spots at home and away.Â For example, if an Evzdrop user follows a particular security check point, they would be able to see any and all Drops from that location, regardless of who’s in their networks.
There are three steps after users have download the Evzdrop app: 1) Listen in on what’s happening at specific places near you, 2) Place a Drop and share a moment with both those in your network and beyond, and 3) Accumulate Props for the best Drops from around the network, which are featured more prominently.
One intriguing feature is a Stealth mode that allows people to post their Drops anonymously for those that “want to be heard and not found.” While we can imagine this will be popular with users, anonymity raises some red flags for business owners and venue managers, as it eliminates the ability to find a customer to remedy any potential negative sentiment.
Anticipating this, Evzdrop has built an analytics platform for businesses to show them how to leverage the fledgling community. Currently free, the business-only features include a dashboard with sentiment analysis and demographics, custom campaigns and notifications that allow owners to interact directly with Evzdrop users – including those that have posted anonymously.
Evzdrop, which has raised $500k in angel funding, was smart to launch with a business product at the ready, because getting business buy-in will help drive awareness and support from the places that Evzdrop focuses on.
Read on past the video for Tnooz’s Q&A with co-founder David Rush.
Q&A with Evzdrop co-founder David Rush.
How is the way you are solving this problem more special or effective than previous attempts you or the market has seen before and how different do you have to be to succeed?
Review platforms on the market today are plagued by fake reviews. Evzdrop uses location verification to ensure that only people at the place in question are posting about whatâ€™s going on. Weâ€™re also tackling the issue of real time because we believe that real-time insights are more authentic than comments posted hours, days or even weeks after the fact.
Why should people or companies use your startup?
Evzdrop is about following places instead of people. The benefit is that you get insight and real time perspectives from people that you may not know but share a common interest with (the place). This allows you to stay plugged into whatâ€™s happening in real time from anywhere whether thatâ€™s a restaurant, airport or stadium. For contributors, it becomes a new platform to express real time opinions and provide feedback that business can access and respond to instantly.
Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?
Weâ€™re doing a few things to create reach. In addition to PR, weâ€™re working with a network of bloggers here in Chicago to spread the word about Evzdrop and demonstrate various use cases. Weâ€™re also running contests through our blog and Facebook page, weâ€™ve enlisted campus ambassadors at a handful of universities and have grassroots efforts in and around the city. Last, getting businesses involved will allow us to leverage their channels to educate customers on how to use the app.
What other options have you considered for the business and the team if the original vision fails?
We will keep our focus while remaining open to making adjustments as dictated by the businesses who intend to use our platform to gain insight.
What mistakes have you made in the past in business and how have you learned from them?
Throughout this process, Iâ€™ve learned to have patience when making decisions, evaluating situations and working with other people. Iâ€™ve also learned that although itâ€™s important to listen to the input of others, you shouldnâ€™t let it guide your conviction if you believe. There are far more many skeptics in the world than those who can create so you will inevitably face doubters if you are an entrepreneur.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
One of the things we discovered through our research in the hospitality industry was a strong desire to engage guests while they were at the hotel and could provide real-time feedback. Evzdrop offers a way for management to immediately rectify an issue, inform guests about new amenities or reward someone on the spot.
There wasnâ€™t a great solution for this in place and we recognized that having the ability to engage and establish a relationship with guests who were at the property was important and presented numerous opportunities for businesses.
Data integrity was another important element we discovered in the research process. Numerous studies have questioned the validity of online reviews. For example, people can leave a review even if theyâ€™ve never stayed at a particular hotel. As the Evzdrop network grows, it can provide valuable insight in real time â€“ how long the wait is at airport security or which parking lot is filling up now at the destination.
Evzdrop has the classic social network problem: its utility and intrigue is directly correlated to how many users/drops it has. I need a good amount of users on the network for me to find a consistently interesting stream of updates from my favorite places. So getting the word out via social media, PR, and other viral promotions is essential.
Starting with Chicago and moving outwards is a smart strategy, as is launching with a suite of business analytics and data tools that will reduce barriers for businesses interested in getting involved but reluctant to commit to managing yet another social network.
The idea of allowing places to be as important as the people who frequent them is novel, and is being pursued by similar startups like Infactious. However, the focus on actual places is a good boundary, and could provide a new and maybe even superior solution to hospitality businesses looking to keep track of what people are saying/doing/feeling at their venue.
Larger companies with many locations might also get some very interesting data from across locations, allowing them to track trends across locations. Yes, there are plenty of online reputation management and sentiment tracking tools, but how many of them allow businesses to analyze what’s happening on location in real-time rather than all over the Internet?
The value of knowing the quality and caliber of the experience a customer is having in real-time promises to be an appealing analytic for many businesses – especially as the Evzdrop For Business platform allows businesses to target promotions and communications to users according to demographic, sentiment, or timeframe.
Effectively targeting users across various business-specific use cases, managers could actually neutralize certain situations before the guest leaves or goes online to complain. This could then reduce the business’ need to aggressively monitor online reputation, as they’ve been effective at first protecting their offline reputation.
Of course, none of this can come to pass if no one uses the network. Evzdrop will need to see some serious adoption for businesses to take it seriously, and for some of its biggest advantages to be realized. Evzdrop should continue to pursue growth through a fantastic product that people actually want to use, and the businesses will most certainly follow.
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