GoodRec Gets a ‘Thumbs Up’

Just when you thought you’d seen all the local review sites you were going to see for awhile along comes GoodRec. The temptation might be to regard the site as a Yelp wannabe and quickly dismiss it. Not so fast.

There are some very interesting things going on here that make the site different:

  • Simplified recommendations (as opposed to lengthy narratives)
  • A mobile-centric approach
  • A broad, horizontal content strategy that extends to products 

In our conversation last week, CEO Mihir Shah (formerly of Yahoo!) kept correcting me that GoodRec “isn’t a review” site. In his mind there’s a significant difference between sites that solicit narrative reviews and what he’s doing — building a broad database of quick recommendations, which can be sorted by “everyone” and by “friends.” 

Of course “sort by friends” implies lots of participation. To that challenge Shah responds that GoodRec has removed the barriers to entry by radically simplifying the process of generating “reviews.” GoodRec asks people for a simple Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down, though it allows them to offer “quick tips” (comments) for color:

Other sites, such as OpenList, take this simplified approach as well:

On GoodRec, recommendations can made from several different places on the site: listings/profile pages or from a map view. They can also be quickly published to social sites (i.e., Facebook, FriendFeed, Twitter). But most importantly recommendations can be quickly made from mobile phones.

Mobile is a central component of GoodRec’s strategy and one of its core differentiators in Shah’s mind. He believes that it’s a mistake for Yelp not to permit reviews from mobile phones because when people are out and at a restaurant, bar, etc. is when they’re most likely to recommend or pan it. They’re also able to take photos and upload them on the spot. 

GoodRec offers an iPhone app; it also has a traditional WAP site:

I asked Shah where he got his listings data. He told me that it was from crawling but that people can easily add listings where they don’t currently exist. He said that in the roughly two weeks since the site launched it’s receiving recommendations from various places throughout the US and in Europe. This flies in the face of the single city launch strategy.

If you take a look at San Francisco restaurants, for example, there are already a surprising number of recommendations. The top listing (below) has 44 recommendations, which would seem to validate Shah’s belief that if you remove barriers more people will participate. 

During my phone interview with Shah, I downloaded the iPhone application and made about 12 recommendations of places in my neighborhood and extended area. 

Beyond mobile as a would-be differentiator the broad, “horizontal” content approach is an interesting angle. The idea is to create a single trusted site where people can get product recommendations as well as restaurant recommendations. Right now “products” includes wine and books, but will later include other categories. 

Certainly there are things to criticize about GoodRec. But Shah and his team have been quite thoughtful about what they’re doing. No single element of the site is entirely original but the way the different elements and ideas have been combined and presented is.

5 Responses to “GoodRec Gets a ‘Thumbs Up’”

  1. mickyj Says:

    This is a really interesting post – a friend of mine pinged me the URL earlier, having read my own post on the importance of location-based info and UGC for listings and recommendations earlier today. I’d love to see something like this expanding not just internationally, but outside the main centres as well… to me this is a big part of the future. Thumbs up from Sandlines in London!

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Thanks very much

  3. Yelp Introduces ‘Review Snapshot’ « Screenwerk Says:

    […] a new challenge for readers/users: making sense of all of them. This is one of the points made by GoodRec founder Mihir Shah: people want quick recommendations, they don’t want to wade through tons of […]

  4. Goodrec: 50% of Reviews from Mobile « Screenwerk Says:

    […] 50% of Reviews from Mobile By Greg Sterling Goodrec is out of beta. The site, as I wrote originally, has several would-be differentiators from a broad range of local-review-site […]

  5. I Like AlikeList « Screenwerk Says:

    […] to add “friends filter” to local sites, either on their own destination sites (e.g., GoodRec) or as an app on Facebook or by incorporating Facebook Connect (e.g., Citysearch). But AlikeList […]

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