We recently covered LocalUncle, a smart use of Foursquare’s API that allows people to ask questions about nearby places (“Has the restaurant run out of soup-of-the-day?”, “How long is the queue at the post office?”) and have them answered by people who are likely to know. Initially it was only available in the USA, but now it’s expanded to the rest of the world.
What’s perhaps most interesting about LocalUncle is the magic that goes on in the background. We caught up with CEO Philip Estrada Reichen to find out more.
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“When you connect your Foursquare account, we pick up data about where you’ve been, how often etc.,” he explains. “This builds up a ‘geoknowledge graph’ of who is likely to know what about where. We can pick the most accurate person people to answer a particular question. Even if no-one has been, we can pick people who have checked in nearest, and may have the right knowledge.”
This smart approach has seen LocalUncle gain attention from bigger companies, although he’s not saying which ones. All he’ll say is that they’re “local content apps with millions of users” and that there are “some interesting integrations coming up.”
LocalUncle started out as the similarly quirkily-named Loqize.me – a Q&A service for travellers. If you were going on a trip to Las Vegas, for example, you could ask “What’s the best restaurant for vegetarian food?” and get answers back. However, the service was flawed.
“We didn’t see engagement that we were expecting to see, even I wasn’t using the app,” says Estrada Reichen. “It was only used out of town in unfamiliar surroundings – so there was no reason for regular use.” Realising that the startup needed a new direction, LocalUncle was born as a way to “query the world.”
The startup was born in Zurich, Switzerland but has since opened an HQ in New York City. Currently available for the iPhone, there are no plans to bring LocalUncle to Android just yet. “We would rather have a smaller userbase and have a quality product, and then launch Android down the road,” says Estrada Reichen who is planning a round of financing next year to speed up development.
Read our recent review for more on how LocalUncle works, and now it’s available everywhere, you can download it for free and try it today.