In May, Gauri Manglik presented her startup, Spoton, at TechCrunch Disrupt New York. The venue recommendation app was fairly well received.
But when Manglik and her team started observing users, they realised people weren’t particularly enthralled with venue recommendations. Instead they glommed on to user reviews, particularly those made by friends.
Users were much more engaged with reviews than they were with recommendations, so Manglik and her team decided to pivot the business.
“We wanted to be very careful,” says Manglik of the product shift. “We tested the new product, Fondu, with 100 users over the past month or two. We asked people off the street to test it, as well as current users who both loved and hated Spoton.”
Manglik says Fondu started producing real conversations around venues in a way that the initial recommendation app didn’t. “Launching Fondu has been a much different process than how we started Spoton, which was just based on passion.”
Spoton will be closing up shop this month; Fondu launched in the App Store today. Manglik describes Fondu as an app for bite-sized reviews from people who want to hear what you have to say.
“Everybody in New York thinks they have great taste in food, but they don’t feel comfortable sharing their opinions on Yelp because it’s more like a public directory than Twitter,” she says. “With Fondu, you only read reviews from people you care about.”
All Fondu reviews are capped at 175 characters and venues can be given ratings out of four pedals (not stars). Fondu uses the Foursquare API but it isn’t a geolocation-based app. Users can write reviews from pretty much anywhere; only bars and restaurants can be reviewed. Right now, photos can’t be added to reviews, but Manglik says that’s a feature her team of five is working on.
Earlier this morning we wrote about the launch of a very similar app, Stamped, which is backed by Google Ventures and Bain Capital. Both Stamped and Fondu think there’s a need for a more social, personalised Yelp.
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