TellMeWhere: Europe's Foursquare?

This morning, I had the chance to sit down with Gilles Barbier, CEO and co-founder of TellMeWhere (Dismoiou in French), a Paris-based European social Yellow Pages service. As with any ratings/reviews service, people can find places (see Le Louvre profile page for example), read the basic information, see the map and pictures, rate/comment on the place, see what others have said and discover related places. So far, although well executed, it’s not very different feature-wise than a lot of ratings/reviews sites like Yelp or Qype.

Mobile as a differentiator

Where it gets really interesting is with their iPhone application (they also have an Android one). The beautifully designed (both from a user interface and user experience) app is where the rubber really hit the road for the young startup founded three years ago. Launched in July, the mobile version has been downloaded more than 400,000 times (on a total of 2 million iPhones in France).

TellMeWhere iPhone Application Home

Features include:

  • Location-based business search
  • Ability to rate/comment places and broadcast your comment on Twitter/Facebook
  • See feedback from other users and your friends
  • See recommendations based on your tastes
  • Great integration of Facebook Connect with instant account creation based on your Facebook information
  • Push of your activities to your friends’ phone and possibility for your friends to answer you back via SMS
  • Integration with Google Maps
  • Integration with the iPhone camera allowing users to take a picture and upload it right away to the place profile page

TellMeWhere iPhone Application recommendations

The release of their iPhone application has created a lot of user traction. Barbier asked me to pick a small town in France just to prove the breadth of usage. I chose Venasque, a small 1000-inhabitant village in Provence where I stayed last spring. I think there are only a dozen businesses in the village. TellMeWhere had two votes in their system. They even had a few activities in smaller towns in Canada. And now they’re on the verge of releasing version 2.0 of their mobile application of the iPhone and it will include check-in functionality (like Foursquare) and an activity stream of everything your friends are doing to enable real-time discovery. You can see a video of the new application here.

TellMeWhere iPhone Application Place Profile

Barbier shared with me that they’ve now realized their mobile applications (built in-house) have become strategic for the small 7-employee company. The combination of mobile + local + social (utilizing an existing identity system like Facebook Connect) is a winning formula.

Mobile will be disruptive

And this is where, in the future of local search, mobile wins (as opposed to the Web). I finally see the light and now realizes that mobile will probably be the great disruptor it was always supposed to be. Why? Because, as Barbier said, mobile usage is real. It’s grounded in real life, with your day-to-day local usage and your social graph. That’s how you build usage. In web-based local search, it’s all about search engine optimization (SEO) these days as it’s very expensive to build new brands. It’s traffic coming from Google and other search engines from users with little loyalty. And with the Mountain View goliath hosting more and more content on their own site, I suspect that strategy will soon go off its rails.

Real-time business model

As for TellMeWhere’s business model, they’re monetizing using “special offers”. Merchants can claim their listing and submit deals/coupons/special offers (the best way to monetize real-time local as I’ve often said). It’s a pay-per-action model (or as Barbier coined it “pay-per-visit) where merchants only pay when the user displays the coupon on their phone on location. With geo-location, it’s easy to verify if the user was really on premise or not when he displayed the coupon. Barbier told me he can charge 4 euros to restaurants each time someone uses a coupon. Sounds like a good model.

I think TellMeWhere has everything to become Europe’s Foursquare. The application is beautifully executed and is easy to use. Current usage seems to show a very positive trend. They have traction in France and other francophone countries and want to go after the rest of Europe and the English-speaking world. You should definitely check out their iPhone application if you want to see a great social/local mobile app.

Update: Gilles Barbier tells me version 2.0 of his application has been approved by Apple and is now available for download.

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TellMeWhere: Europe's Foursquare?

This morning, I had the chance to sit down with Gilles Barbier, CEO and co-founder of TellMeWhere (Dismoiou in French), a Paris-based European social Yellow Pages service. As with any ratings/reviews service, people can find places (see Le Louvre profile page for example), read the basic information, see the map and pictures, rate/comment on the place, see what others have said and discover related places. So far, although well executed, it’s not very different feature-wise than a lot of ratings/reviews sites like Yelp or Qype.

Mobile as a differentiator

Where it gets really interesting is with their iPhone application (they also have an Android one). The beautifully designed (both from a user interface and user experience) app is where the rubber really hit the road for the young startup founded three years ago. Launched in July, the mobile version has been downloaded more than 400,000 times (on a total of 2 million iPhones in France).

TellMeWhere iPhone Application Home

Features include:

  • Location-based business search
  • Ability to rate/comment places and broadcast your comment on Twitter/Facebook
  • See feedback from other users and your friends
  • See recommendations based on your tastes
  • Great integration of Facebook Connect with instant account creation based on your Facebook information
  • Push of your activities to your friends’ phone and possibility for your friends to answer you back via SMS
  • Integration with Google Maps
  • Integration with the iPhone camera allowing users to take a picture and upload it right away to the place profile page

TellMeWhere iPhone Application recommendations

The release of their iPhone application has created a lot of user traction. Barbier asked me to pick a small town in France just to prove the breadth of usage. I chose Venasque, a small 1000-inhabitant village in Provence where I stayed last spring. I think there are only a dozen businesses in the village. TellMeWhere had two votes in their system. They even had a few activities in smaller towns in Canada. And now they’re on the verge of releasing version 2.0 of their mobile application of the iPhone and it will include check-in functionality (like Foursquare) and an activity stream of everything your friends are doing to enable real-time discovery. You can see a video of the new application here.

TellMeWhere iPhone Application Place Profile

Barbier shared with me that they’ve now realized their mobile applications (built in-house) have become strategic for the small 7-employee company. The combination of mobile + local + social (utilizing an existing identity system like Facebook Connect) is a winning formula.

Mobile will be disruptive

And this is where, in the future of local search, mobile wins (as opposed to the Web). I finally see the light and now realizes that mobile will probably be the great disruptor it was always supposed to be. Why? Because, as Barbier said, mobile usage is real. It’s grounded in real life, with your day-to-day local usage and your social graph. That’s how you build usage. In web-based local search, it’s all about search engine optimization (SEO) these days as it’s very expensive to build new brands. It’s traffic coming from Google and other search engines from users with little loyalty. And with the Mountain View goliath hosting more and more content on their own site, I suspect that strategy will soon go off its rails.

Real-time business model

As for TellMeWhere’s business model, they’re monetizing using “special offers”. Merchants can claim their listing and submit deals/coupons/special offers (the best way to monetize real-time local as I’ve often said). It’s a pay-per-action model (or as Barbier coined it “pay-per-visit) where merchants only pay when the user displays the coupon on their phone on location. With geo-location, it’s easy to verify if the user was really on premise or not when he displayed the coupon. Barbier told me he can charge 4 euros to restaurants each time someone uses a coupon. Sounds like a good model.

I think TellMeWhere has everything to become Europe’s Foursquare. The application is beautifully executed and is easy to use. Current usage seems to show a very positive trend. They have traction in France and other francophone countries and want to go after the rest of Europe and the English-speaking world. You should definitely check out their iPhone application if you want to see a great social/local mobile app.

Update: Gilles Barbier tells me version 2.0 of his application has been approved by Apple and is now available for download.

Microsoft’s Bing Does Restaurant Meta-Reviews

Microsoft’s new search engine Bing excels at finding a good restaurant. Unlike Google, which generally returns links to mere web sites, Bing crawls listings at review services like Yelp.com and CitySearch. It then summarizes the results and displays a scorecard for each, rating things like service, drinks, food, wait time, lunch offerings, and so on, all laid out in a neat comparative table.

via Microsoft’s Bing Hides Its Best Features | Epicenter | Wired.com.

What it means: we still don’t have a lot of information about Bing, the new search engine from Microsoft that was unveiled today to the press (and will be available to the general public on June 3rd) but I found that this was an interesting nugget of info. You can see some screenshots in the Wired.com article. Expect this feature to be copied by Google and become a key element inside Yellow Pages websites.

Analysis: The Impact of the Recession on France's Restaurant Industry

“Les restaurateurs inquiets de la chute de la fréquentation” via Le Monde.fr.

Ce sont aussi toutes les formes de restauration qui sont liées à la vie de l’entreprise et des affaires. “Non seulement, les déjeuners d’affaires ont beaucoup baissé au cours des trois premiers mois, mais les traiteurs organisateurs de réceptions, spécialisés dans les cocktails et les séminaires ont vu leur activité se replier de près de 40 %” affirme M. Chenet.

Tout en ne niant pas la crise que traverse la profession, Christine Pujol, présidente de l’Union des métiers de l’industrie hôtelière (UMIH), première organisation du secteur avec 80 000 adhérents, veut relativiser. Le recul de 50 % du chiffre d’affaires lui semble bien au-delà de la réalité. “Une baisse de moins 15 % à moins 30 % me paraît plus proche de la réalité. C’est le début de l’année et, en termes d’activité, on sait que ce ne sont jamais de très bons mois” explique Mme Pujol.

Mini what it means: “restaurants” is a very important category in terms of Yellow Pages usage and it’s always interesting to look at the impact of the recession on that heading.  In France, the restaurant industry is suffering from the recession with experts estimating a 15-40% the drop in revenues depending on the sector.  business-related restaurant expenses are especially hit hard and those includes business lunches, cocktails, seminars and catering. Expect those headings to be harder to renew or increase this year.

Analysis: The Impact of the Recession on France's Restaurant Industry

“Les restaurateurs inquiets de la chute de la fréquentation” via Le Monde.fr.

Ce sont aussi toutes les formes de restauration qui sont liées à la vie de l’entreprise et des affaires. “Non seulement, les déjeuners d’affaires ont beaucoup baissé au cours des trois premiers mois, mais les traiteurs organisateurs de réceptions, spécialisés dans les cocktails et les séminaires ont vu leur activité se replier de près de 40 %” affirme M. Chenet.

Tout en ne niant pas la crise que traverse la profession, Christine Pujol, présidente de l’Union des métiers de l’industrie hôtelière (UMIH), première organisation du secteur avec 80 000 adhérents, veut relativiser. Le recul de 50 % du chiffre d’affaires lui semble bien au-delà de la réalité. “Une baisse de moins 15 % à moins 30 % me paraît plus proche de la réalité. C’est le début de l’année et, en termes d’activité, on sait que ce ne sont jamais de très bons mois” explique Mme Pujol.

Mini what it means: “restaurants” is a very important category in terms of Yellow Pages usage and it’s always interesting to look at the impact of the recession on that heading.  In France, the restaurant industry is suffering from the recession with experts estimating a 15-40% the drop in revenues depending on the sector.  business-related restaurant expenses are especially hit hard and those includes business lunches, cocktails, seminars and catering. Expect those headings to be harder to renew or increase this year.