TLabs Showcase – Matchbook
TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based location recommendation and bookmarking app provider Matchbook.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Matchbook is an app to capture those must-remember restaurants, bars and shops. Right now when a friend recommends a great restaurant, people remember that by writing it down in the notepad app of their phone.
When someone Matchbooks a place, it organizes it for them by neighborhood and on a map.
Matchbook also allows you to search through your bookmarked places. Let’s say you were looking for a date spot in the West Village.
Matchbook will tell you which of your saved places match that criteria, and then it will give you recommendations from other peoples bookmarks.
Your list of places is private, but we do use the data around how many people save a place to make recommendations.
- I’m Jason Schwartz, founder and product manager Matchbook. I was most recently a product manager at Angelsoft.net. I’ve spent the last year figuring out the metrics side of the daily deals space, and then moved on to build Matchbook.
- Evan Bartlett is my co-founder and handles the business development. He was the senior account manager at Angelsoft, and then moved on from that to build local merchant sales teams for the daily deals space.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
We bootstrapped the company ourselves. No financial support.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Right now when a friend recommends a great restaurant, people remember that by writing it down in the notepad app of their phone.
This is surprisingly pervasive behaviour, yet the results aren’t useful. These lists are unorganized, they aren’t on a map, and they do little to help you make a decision on where to go out.
When someone Matchbooks a place, it organizes it for them by neighborhood and on a map. It makes this already occurring behaviour useful.
Describe the business, core products and services?
There are three primary triggers for remembering a place:
- Someone makes a recommendation on a place you should try.
- You walk by a place that looks interesting.
- You read about a place on a website.
The app takes care of the first two trigger points. You can type in the name of place you want to save, or you can click “I’m Walking By It” to see a list of nearby places.
The last trigger point, reading about things on a website, will be taken care of by a “Send this Place To My Phone” button. We are speaking with a number of local content publishers about implementing these buttons so people can remember a place with one click.
We also have a bookmarklet that allows people to remember a place on any website. It sits in the users bookmark bar, and clicking allows the user to save the place.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
We found that the app resonate the best with females, aged 21 to 38, in urban areas.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Yes. We spent two months user testing with paper prototypes before we wrote a line of code. On the publisher side of things, most of the requests to work with us have been in-bound.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
You can think of Matchbook as a repository of intent around location. Intent is a very valuable thing to advertise against. We plan on serving up deals to people who have said they want to go to a specific place.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- This is already existing user behaviour. We aren’t trying to teach people to do something new
- User acquisition for any app is very difficult.
- We are just getting started with the publisher side of our app. This seems like a ripe market.
- Someone else doing what we do, but better.
Who advised you your idea isn’t going to be successful and why didn’t you listen to them?
Most people we spoke to in the tech world told us that this wouldn’t work. In their world everyone uses Twitter and Foursquare.
It was hard for them to understand that there was a massive audience that did not use these services, that are not that into sharing.
We spent the time talking with those “normal people”, so we knew what they wanted.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
To the press, it will probably be number of bookmarks. That sounds like it will be a nice big number to grab a headline over.
Internally, where it really matters, it will be week over week engagement and viral coefficient.
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.