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Described by some as a cross between Quora and Yelp, Crowdbeacon is a location based platform, with an iPhone app already released, and Android versions on the way. 

It provides localised information to users based on what they need and where they are. For example, a user could ask for the best restaurant serving Chinese food in New York, and other users will chip in with their suggestions. 

In one sentence, what is Crowdbeacon?

Crowdbeacon is a location based Q&A platform. We've been described as "Quora meets Yelp."

What problem does Crowdbeacon solve?

Crowdbeacon helps people get information where and when they need it. People on the go that are looking for restaurants, services and other venues go directly to their mobile to get answers.

They can go to Google maps or Yelp, but are often frustrated by a myriad of results and user ratings that are all over the board.

Don't get me wrong, these products are great if you know the name of the place you want to go, but more specific questions like "place to buy an Android Incredible charger after 9PM" are more easily answered on Crowdbeacon.

It also helps if you've had a late night and you'd rather get a straight answer instead of tinkering with web search. :)

Who is your target audience?

We have two target audiences:

1) Any person looking to get a real-time location based answer on what they should do or where they're going. 

2) Local businesses that want to better serve and target their audience through super direct leads.

When and why did you launch it?

We launched the second week of February so have been live for six weeks now. We decided to launch then because at that point we had been working on the product for six months and wanted to get it out in the real world in order to test and iterate.

What were the biggest challenges involved in building Crowdbeacon?

There are several technical challenges in building an iPhone or Android app that deals with specific locations, as well as utilizing APIs from Foursquare and Yelp where you want to make sure the information being served is relevant.

How will the company make money?

We're in the process right now of signing up local businesses that pay us a small fee for each question that directly pertains to their business as a form of a direct lead.

Over 92% of questions being asked involve the user's intention to buy a product or service immediately, and businesses are finding this quite valuable.

What is your pricing model?

Depending on the number of questions being asked about a business, and how many businesses are competing to get that information, the pricing structure varies. Our initial rates have been around $1 per direct lead or question asked.

Who is in the team and what does it look like?

We’ve got a very unique team in the sense that we were born out of Squeaky Wheel Media, a digital agency, as an internal project. I can't thank the folks there enough for all their hard work and effort.

Anthony Del Monte and Mailet Lopez, the agency founders, have been a tremendous help as far as providing us with the resources we need and being great mentors to the team. Robert Boyle, our CEO, has done a great job of focusing Crowdbeacon's vision as well as leading the team.

Luca Columbu, our lead developer is a straight up whiz kid! He was a physics major in school. He's a genius. We also have three others, Shalin Dave, LIz Belilovskya and Rachel Patterson who have been assisting with everything from project management to biz dev and have been doing a fantastic job.

Where would you like to be in one, three and five year's time?

In one year we plan on gaining more users and traction on a national level through an enhanced product and better partnerships. We've got a handful of major brands looking to partner with us for questions that pertain to their business.

In three to five years, it's really hard to tell! The LBS (location based service) industry is moving at such a rapid speed that our plan is to keep growing and adjust accordingly.

Our general philosophy is to implement, collect feedback and iterate accordingly.

Crowdbeacon on Vimeo.

Graham Charlton

Published 24 March, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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