- WEB STARTUPS
- WEB JOBS
- ALL TOPICS
UpNext – The Future of Local is Here Now! Yelp who?
It’s rare that I actually instantly love what a service/product offers. But UpNext is one of those "damn" type applications. This morning I met with the CEO Danny Moon and Lead Engineer Raj Advani of a new startup called UpNext. UpNext is the next generation of Local. Notice I didn’t say Local Search – because the application is a lot more than that.
The core of their service is the 3d map (screenshot below) which allows you to pan, rotate, change the angle, zoom, etc. It’s like a video game to some extent in the quality of the graphics and the speed of movement. The backend is Java which requires you to download the applet (takes about 1 minute on broadband) and Raj noted that once you have the applet, you won’t need to download it again – all other info is fed while using the system.
Danny said that, "discovery is lacking in local search" – I agree with this and know that for a new resident, exploration is key. Sites such as Yelp are great for finding reviews and details on the burger joint down the block, but what if you want to explore the neighborhood in which you are currently? This issue is one that the UpNext team is attempting to address. For example, you can click a building and view what’s inside – both large companies and local establishments. There is also a list view which is built on text that accompanies the options you select inside the map.
They have a social network built into UpNext which allows you to graphically map where your friends have been, read their reviews and also nudge them for a review of a place they have been but haven’t actually written about yet. This is beneficial because you know your friends base better than the average joe reviewer on most local sites.
They are working on a Facebook app which will launch in the next week or so – I got a glimpse of it and it’s hot and certainly not one of Kara’s baby applications. I was asked not to write about the details until it launches next week. A mobile app will follow shortly thereafter.
The map technology alone could be a quick acquisition target. I could see other NY-based services such as ZocDoc and StreetEasy using this technology and partnering as well on the reviews of the area. They are working on an API for partner integration for late 2007/early 2008. This is one of their streams of monetization by either working on a ping-based pricing model or an ad-supported option.
The map stays current in three ways (maybe more but this is what I get): data feeds supplied to UpNext, manual entry by the UpNext team and by user updates. Did you notice that the pizzeria on 48th and 2nd avenue is closed? Go edit the record which creates a community of users to help keep the tool updated.
Versus Yelp, Danny believes UpNext is for a broader audience and versus Down2Night, UpNext goes much deeper than just parties.
The stats show that the map is pretty enticing – current average visitor engagement is 15 minutes. They have 170,000 locations mapped in Manhattan and are working to "own" the NYC space before expanding to other cities. Their initial expansion list includes San Francisco, Boston and other university towns.
The team is 4 people, 2 in NYC and 2 in Orange County, California – all long-time friends. The company is currently bootstrapped and might be looking for funding later in the year. Paging Union Square and DFJ Gotham stat.
I think a twitter-style review system would be a good addition for UpNext. Add a way to just make a quick note about a location (i.e. "don’t order the veggie burger", "Sally gives the best fades in the shop"). And an ATM locator by financial institution. It would be great to click that I am in Union Square and then click Chase Bank and see where is the closest bank, etc. Of course travel directions would be a good addition as well. Lastly, I suggested to Danny and Raj that they work on being able to have permalinks directly inside the map – this is how Google Maps was able to explode on the scene and it will help with search engine optimization.
Overall I was very impressed both by the application itself and the business acumen that Danny and Raj demonstrated this morning. Here is a map screenshot (the lights are current happenings):