Sometimes searching for a fun coffee place, a particular kind of nightclub or a great sushi restaurant could be as stressful as trying to meet people to date.
But imagine a mobile phone app that knows your tastes in food and drinks so well that wherever you happen to be, it finds just the right match for you.
Bizzy, a mobile app, might be the answer.
Founded in Mountain View and launched in 2010, Bizzy, a local business recommendation engine stirs up personalized recommendations based on an initial 20 questions. Then the answers go into a “grand algorithm” that gets mapped and serves as a basis of your next go-to place.
“We want to be the space people turn to when they are looking for a local restaurant,” said Ryan Kuder, vice president of marketing. Unlike other location based services, Bizzy is not interested in where you are, just whether you liked the place.
According to Annette Zimmermann, principal analyst of Consumer Markets & Technology at Gartner Inc., if Bizzy can find a way to get personalized recommendations to a good experience on the mobile device, then it will be very valuable to the user.
“This could be their competitive edge, as several of their competitors like Foursquare and Gowalla, do not have a good recommendation engine yet or have just started to integrate one,” she added. She emphasized that the app needs to stay free for the end user.
A fully owned subsidiary of ReachLocal Inc., Bizzy has generated 1.7 million personalized recommendations, according to Kuder.
“We have one focus—give people a fantastic recommendation and see a smiley face,” said Gadi Shamia, founder of Bizzy, as he elaborated on what he called the “victory of discovery.” Shamia created Bizzy after working several years on small businesses at SAP, and years after his company, TopManage in Israel, had been acquired by SAP.
Bizzy, a 17-employee company, launched an industry first with its location-based “check-out” app on the night of March 7. Shamia explained that a lot of users don’t "check-in" when they arrive at locations, because they don’t want people to crash their party.
For all those folks who don’t want to announce their location or check-in on foursquare just before leaving, check-out provides another option. Mountain View Patch caught up with Bizzy soon after the app release, learned that users started checking-out within 15 minutes of launch and watched the Bizzy crew as it keenly tracked the minute-to-minute statistics on iPhones.
Check-out offers a simple and fast solution to share your opinion about a place on your phone, using a smiley, meh or a frowny. Also once a favorite needn’t stay a favorite forever.
“With check-out, you can review and change your recommendations, which [in turn gives Bizzy] fresh data all the time,” said Shamia.
Though Yelp's reviews are different that Bizzy's favorites, a quick comparison would show that Yelp got its 100,000 reviews 18 months after it launched, while Bizzy got its 100,000 favorite 10 weeks after launch, according to Kuder.
While Yelp is about the long reviews and generating the same recommendations for different people looking for a similar place, the executives at Bizzy feel they’ve got it right.
Analyst Zimmermann is not so sure.
Bizzy will monitor the growth in users of its application for some time and on a big enough scale to then consider any opportunity to monetize the product. For Shamia, the goal would be to convert people from simply seeing recommendations to taking action. Bizzy would them hook them up with the types of businesses they love.
“The differentiation of the application is clear to the end-user, I think, but it may not be clear to the merchant,” said Zimmermann. “It will be interesting to see what business model Bizzy is going to install.”
Though Bizzy recently moved to Sunnyvale, the company still has a strong Mountain View connections. “We’ve drunk a ton of ,” said Kuder. Shamia added that “ has kept our developers fed for a year."