You almost need two hands to count all the startups working in location at the moment. The sector is seeing rapid user adoption and has received generous amounts of funding from the VC community, heavily fueling its growth. To stand out from the crowd is a tough task.
One startup that does so is DoubleDutch, making it no surprise that they won the “Best Mobile Startup” award at this year’s The Next Web conference. The company, unlike every other location startup, offers a white label solution to let various groups build their own location applications. Other companies tend to offer a single branded application for consumers to use in all situations. Foursquare, Gowalla and the other companies that you can name do this.
DoubleDutch wants you to build a location application for your event or group. If, for example, you ran CES you might want to have a special application trained to contain all the important CES locations for conference attendees to use. After all, if you can control it, you can make it as good as you wish it to be.
Think of DoubleDutch as the Ning of geolocation applications. Marshall Kirkpatrick said it well, “DoubleDutch is to Foursquare what Ning is to Facebook.” In short, DoubleDutch does not need for consumers to ever hear of it. Instead, the company wants large savvy organizations to know their name and phone number.
Who Can Use It Right Now?
At the conference the company released two versions of their product, one aimed at universities and one for conferences. Students while not the heaviest Foursquare users are constantly on the move, and are increasingly buying smartphones.
For conferences it is currently impossible to walk into a venue or discussion without seeing people checking in on their phones. Both areas are direct hits for location products and should perform well for the company. DoubleDutch also offers a solution for hotels, and a generic vanilla version that can be used as the purchaser sees fit.
CEO Lawrence Coburn (one of our own authors, Lawrence helps edit our Location vertical) says the following parts of the applications are customizable: the artwork, the venue data (where people can check-in), and the user rewards that are available. In short, whatever you want it to be, it can.
Why Should You Care?
In short order you are going to attend an event or head to a location that will offer up a DoubleDutch app to you, be sure of that. But even more, having a smaller user pool concentrated into a short time period or location makes the applications better than anything that Foursquare or Gowalla can offer.
You care much more if someone from the conference you are attending heads to a certain bar, than the average Foursquare user. DoubleDutch adds instant context to check-ins by making them specific to a set group of people. It is a small change that in practice could have a large impact.
DoubleDutch is innovating in an explosive market, you will hear from them again. In fact, expect an application built on their platform to be on your phone within six months.