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This article was published on March 5, 2011

LocalMind: Quora meets FourSquare [invites]

LocalMind: Quora meets FourSquare [invites]
Brodie Beta
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Brodie Beta

Brodie Beta is a technology enthusiast with a passion for gadgets, media and anything related to the Web. She has worked in communications Brodie Beta is a technology enthusiast with a passion for gadgets, media and anything related to the Web. She has worked in communications and media for the past nine years. Follow her on twitter here .

LocalMind is a check-in service that helps you find out what’s happening in a specific locations, by allowing you to ask questions to users who’ve “checked-in”.

It works like this: Users are able to locate a spot they want to know more information about and if another user has “checked-in”, you’re able to ask them anything you like. Similar to Foursquare, users can become experts of a specific location and will additionally earn “karma” points for helping answer the communities questions.

LocalMind is currently only available through the web with an invite code but there’s a mobile version for iOS on the way soon, hopefully arriving at some point next week according to the founder.

A Chat with the Founder

We had a chance to speak with the founder of the Montreal-based startup LocalMind, Lenny Rachitsky. He shared with us that he recently moved to Canada from San Diego, inspired by a visit he had in Montreal back in September.

Curious about how users are using the service, we asked Rachitsky to explain what types of questions are being asked:

It’s things like “how crowded is the bar?”or “is there line to get in to get into the club ?” or “is the WiFi up? or “what are the drink specials”

Can you bring us through how the Karma points feature works?

It’s something that we’re still playing with and experimenting with but the basic idea is: LocalMind is going to work if people are willing to help each other and help other people and answer questions. Initially it wasn’t really going to be the focus but, after doing a bunch of interviews and experimenting initially that seemed to be what excited people about it. Just the idea that they could help and they were happy to help and so we added the karama system.

Rachitsky continued to explain that the point would also be based off of location:

When you do anything good for other people or for the community you earn karma points. The karma points are associated with specific locations so if you answer a questions at a specific bar, you earn points for that bar and once you’ve got enough karma points, you level up through various levels of expertise. You start off as a LocalMind recruit then you become a LocalMind expert and then a champion and then legend.

Is the karma system similar to becoming the Mayor of a location on FourSquare?

It’s similar but there can be any number of LocalMind experts at a specific venue…the idea is, right now you send questions to specific places and initially it was only people there right now. With the karma system, once we recognize you’re an expert about a specific venue, we can also send you questions about that place because you probably know what’s happening and what’s ‘good to get there’ or ‘what the specials are’. So, we recognize you as an expert and you become available to answer questions about the specific place.

The web version of LocalMind currently works by sending users text messages but as Rachitsky tells us, it’s something they’d rather not do, and the new iteration of his service is best used with mobile.

The whole use case is mobile, so the future of the platform is going to be mobile and there’s not going to be a ton, short term on the web side of it. The reason for that is because, when you’re going out & about, that’s when you have questions like this and we’d rather not send you text messages which is how it works without the iPhone app. We’d rather push notifications to your phone.

What new features can we expect to see in the mobile version?

The big one is you can see, where ever you are, activity happening around you and questions and answers that have happened there previously.. it feels like one of the most valuable parts of the service because while you’re walking around the city, you can see questions hanging in the air around that area that other people have answered. So, when you’re not sure what do in an area you pull it up and see what people are saying is a good place to go to.

Can users follow and friend each other?

It’s a complicated component of this. The key so far has been to keep it anonymous because you’re able to see where LocalMinds are, and if we tell you who they are, that becomes really scary. We’re very serious about the privacy of you at a specific location so it’s all anonymous as a general rule. But, you do see where your friends are if they’re your friends on Facebook, FourSquare or Gowalla. And, you also see a leaderboard of how you’re doing compared to your friends.

Are there any additional features we can look forward to?

We’re working on a bunch of stuff around getting people engaged..we’re starting to develop a reputation score for every user, and with that we can determine who should get questions, who’s the expert at various venues and we can start creating public profiles of ‘who’s the expert in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal or certain genres of questions in knowledge. We’re also starting to focus on continuing conversations. That’s something that comes up a lot. You ask a question, you get an answer and send a thank you but people want to continue the conversation and turn it into a chat to get more information or meet that person. So, that’s something we’re definitely exploring.

Beta Invites and Sneak Peek of the iPhone app

LocalMind has provided us with invites for the web as well as a sneak peek of the new iPhone application. As you can see in the images below, the LocalMind app enables users to ask questions from the map, answer questions or view the activity stream by distance in a list. Please let us know what you think. Do you think you’d use LocalMind?

Beta invite: TNW

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