Social Recommendation Apps and Platforms

Part
01
of three
Part
01

Recommendation Platform Analysis (1)

Blinked was founded in 2014 by Julie Benlevi and its headquarters is located in the Greater New York Area. According to Angel List, in 2016-2017 the company raised $1 million in funding during the Seed round and was valuated at $10 million. On the attached spreadsheet, in columns C-E the requested information on Kit, Hansel, and Blinked can be found.

KIT

  • Kit was founded in 2015 by Camille Hearst, Naveen Selvadurai, Will Chiong. Its headquarters are located in the Greater New York Area. The company received about $2.5 million in funding from the Seed round in 2016 and had an estimated revenue of $1 million.
  • One of Kit's key features is the product or creator search bar at the top of its website where people can paste a link of the product from any website or search for the product. Once found, people can write a few words on why they recommend a product and what they like about it.
  • The company generates revenue by leveraging the data generated from user recommendations and earns from affiliate marketing fees and its subscription model.
  • One of Kit's competitive advantages is that, unlike some of its competitors who give anonymous recommendations, Kit offers its users recommendations from trusted sources such as famous bloggers, vloggers or Instagrammers. The name and kit recommendation, as well as the name of the creators, are published on the site.

HANSEL

  • Anthony and Phil Sprawls founded Hansel in 2018 because, as fathers, they wanted to get the best gear for their children. Its headquarters is located in the Greater Los Angeles Area along the West Coast of the U.S.
  • One of Hansel's key features is that it requires users to register on the platform first via a question in typeform, answer some questions, and insert their email address. Afterward, users can access lists from their friends or follow other users to access their recommendations.
  • Hansel's business model involves its partnership with Amazon. It generates revenue from Amazon's affiliate program and allows users to track their friend's or other people's purchases on Amazon and shop directly for the products.
  • One of Hansel's competitive advantages is that it has a partnership with Amazon and it can track the past purchases of users and the people that the users want to correlate with, the items and the details of what these people bought on Amazon.

BLINKED

  • Blinked was founded in 2014 by Julie Benlevi and its headquarters is located in the Greater New York Area along the East Coast of the U.S. According to Angel List, in 2016-2017 the company raised $1 million in funding during the Seed round and was valuated at $10 million.
  • One of the key features of Blinked is that it provides purely editorial, curated recommendation lists from the user's favorite experts and influencer which need to be purchased the same way songs are purchased from iTunes.
  • Blinked uses a blockchain business model with an incentive scheme. It leverages data from user recommendations, marketing fees from brands, and targeted ads with a token incentive model.
  • Blinked's competitive advantage is that it differs from other platforms because its recommendations are curated from magazines, newspapers, friends, sites, brands, personalities, and celebrities. Users can get recommendations from their favorite influencers, who can earn 50% commission for a product sold. Even no-paid recommendation are permitted.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

In our research, we leveraged information on the companies' official websites, business profile databases (such as Crunchbase and ZoomInfo) and news sites (such as Tech Crunch).
Part
02
of three
Part
02

Recommendation Platform Analysis (2)

The requested details for the recommendation platforms listed in columns F-H have been provided in the attached project spreadsheet. Likewise was founded in 2017, Vero was founded in 2015, and Mix was founded in 2016.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

  • Recommendations on Likewise are curated by friends, family members, and other trusted sources.
  • The Likewise app is funded by the founder of Microsoft Inc, Bill Gates.
  • Mix provides recommendations based on the user's interests. Recommendations are curated by friends and community experts.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

To complete this request, we commenced our research on the respective company websites, where we were able to identify relevant information such as key features, competitive advantage, recommendation curators, and in the case of the company Vero their revenue model. We made use of LinkedIn pages of the companies to retrieve information on their founding dates. In cases where any of the required information was not available on the company website, LinkedIn or Crunchbase pages, we made use of third-party sources such as news stories from notable new/business websites like Techcrunch, Geekwire, and Entrepreneur.com. We have updated columns F-H rows 3-6 of the project spreadsheet with all the required information, and have provided source links used in row 7.
Part
03
of three
Part
03

Recommendation Platform Analysis (3)

All the requested information about the social recommendation platforms Rex, Rayka, TidBit Social, and Q Me is included in the attached spreadsheet and summarized below.

Findings

Rex

1. Overview

  • Rex was founded in 2014 by Chris Smith.
  • The company disclosed that it "raised $2.9 million in seed funding from investors including Chris Sacca, Sean Bailey and Nick Jones."
  • According to Crunchbase, Rex received one funding round in the form of seed capital from the investor Lowercase Capital, though the amount was undisclosed (announced on November 28, 2014).
  • Recommendations/lists on the app are curated by a Rex staff member, as well as end users.
  • The Rex staff member's curation involves reviewing "all of the posts on the platform and deciding which ones will be featured for all users of the app to see, in addition to curating them into sections such as 'Weekly Reads' or '1970s Cinema.'"

2. KEY FEATURES

  • Rex's key features include the following: (1) Sharing things/places that a person likes; (2) Saving posts to look at later; (3) The ability to click on anything to get more information; (4) Look at trending content, curated collections, and featured content; and (5) A map to see places that experts and friends recommend.
  • Users find lists by following influencers and friends to see what they have recommended.

3. BUSINESS MODEL

  • The only information we could find about the company's business model/revenue is the fact that it's a free app.

4. COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGES

  • Rex's main competitive advantage is its "holistic approach" as a recommendation platform.
  • As one source explained, "although its true there have been other attempts to collect what people are consuming and places they are visiting (RIP, GetGlue), none have taken the holistic approach of Rex."
  • According to the company, its app provides "the easiest way to connect with friends to share your favorite movies, music, books, TV shows, videos, restaurants, bars, travel destinations, and anything else" that people like.
  • Another competitive advantage of Rex is the fact that it's based on recommendations from trusted people.
  • The company's founder explained the importance of receiving recommendations from trusted sources, instead of strangers, in stating: "Rex is built on the idea that a recommendation from one [trusted] person . . . is worth more than a thousand strangers. Yelp is a group of aggregated recommendations. Knowing who people are provides context."

RAYKA

1. Overview

  • Rayka was founded in 2017.
  • Rayka received $100,000 in funding by winning the Atlanta Startup Battle competition.
  • In referencing the aforementioned competition that Rayka won, the company's founder stated: "That win allowed us to raise our major first round of funding this past January, and we’ll now be raising another round of funding at the beginning of this fall." However, he didn't disclose the amounts of those funding rounds.
  • Recommendations are curated by end users. To do so, end users add experiences recommended by others to their own wishlists of places to go.

2. KEY FEATURES

  • The following are the app's key features: (1) Follow travelers and friends to see what and where they recommend; (2) "Browse content and add items to . . . wishlists" for upcoming trips; (3) View recommendations from experts and friends; (4) "Browse lists from . . . favorite socialites, explorers, and friends."
  • Accordingly, lists are found by either browsing lists already created by others, or browsing content generally (including recommendations from others).

3. BUSINESS MODEL

  • The only information we could find about the company's business model/revenue is the fact that it's a free app.

4. COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGES

  • One of Rayka's main competitive advantages is that is carving a different way of reviewing food and travel destinations. As such, Rayka doesn't use the star review rating system.
  • On its website, Rayka answers the question "How is Rayka different from other platforms?" by stating: "We’ve created a platform full of trustworthy and organic recommendations from real people in your network. Follow your friends, top travelers and celebrities to see what they're recommending! Our platform is based on recommendations, rather than 1-5 star reviews."
  • The company further explained its competitive advantages in stating: "Rayka is the world's social recommendation platform for travel, based on trustworthy recommendations rather than biased 1-5 star reviews."
  • The company further stated: "[W]e will disrupt the outdated review industry and allow people to easily discover and share their travel and food recommendations."

TIDBIT SOCIAL

1. Overview

  • TidBit Social was founded in 2016.
  • We couldn't find any publicly available funding information.
  • Recommendations are curated on the app by end users, but automatically.
  • As the company explained, "With your TidBit profile, there’s no need to constantly curate new recommendation lists for friends and family; this list is automatically created when you rate a restaurant! You’ll never forget what and where you ate."

2. KEY FEATURES

  • The following are the app's key features: A rating fee compiled from the social networks that a user accesses; (2) Snapshots of real-time restaurant reviews from people in a user's network; (3) A map-based guide to nearby restaurants; (4) A wish list where users can add restaurants they want to try; (5) Tools for browsing and filtering restaurants lists; (6) A tool to find nearby restaurant based on ratings from a user's trusted network; (7) Rating food items/dishes; (8) Restaurant profiles, and (9) A built-in reservation feature powered by Open Table.
  • Lists are found by looking through a news feed and browsing/filtering content.

3. BUSINESS MODEL

  • The only information we could find about the company's business model/revenue is the fact that it's a free app.

4. COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGES

  • TidBit's main competitive advantage is that it "is the first application that derives restaurant ratings solely from users' social networks."
  • The company answered the question "How is Tidbit Social different from other restaurant apps?" by stating: "The rating system is way different from those used in other apps: the reviews are obtained from your friends and the score and comments they give to individual dishes of a restaurant. The scores are tailored to your preferences for smarter recommendations of where and what to eat."
  • Another competitive advantage of the app is due to its transparent review about dining experiences, as ratings are included for both the food and restaurants, again from the opinions of people in one's social network.

Q ME

1. Overview

  • We couldn't find when the company was found nor any publicly available funding information.
  • Recommendations are curated by end users, who can create such through the quick search feature of items already listed within the app, by searching within the app, or by pasting the link to an item.
  • After locating an item, an end user can comment on it and then send the item to friends or it can be saved for later reference by the end user.

2. KEY FEATURES

  • The app's key features include a feed where content can be organized easily (called "the Q Me feed").
  • That feed logs all the items that an end user either completed, received, or sent to others.
  • There's also a feature that lets users filter content based on user profiles as well as by category. Accordingly, the aforementioned is how lists are found within the app.

3. BUSINESS MODEL

  • The only information we could find about the company's business model/revenue is that it's a free app.

4. COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGES

  • Q Me's competitive advantage centers around its commitment to being a platform for "custom learning experiences and organic learning communities."
  • Another aspect of the app's competitive advantage involves its focus on daily learning, whereas many other recommendation platforms focus solely on the recommendations. The company commented on that goal by explaining that its aim is to be a platform where people can "store, share, encourage, take notes, evaluate, teach & discuss our ocean of incredible content & life experiences available. "
  • A third competitive advantage of the app is its balance between a sophisticated, yet simple app through which people can organize all of their ideas and content. In this way, the app is very wide-ranging (more so than many others), thus representing another of its competitive advantages.

Your Research Team Applied the Following Strategy:

While we were able to find most of the requested information, there were a few data points we couldn't find. Those data points that we couldn't find, despite thorough research efforts, were TidBit's funding, Q Me's founding date, and Q Me's funding. The only information we could find about each of the apps business models/revenue was the fact that they're all free apps. We looked for business model/revenue information for each of the companies by using three different methods. First, we reviewed articles about the apps as available (though there weren't any for Q Me) in sources such as PR Newswire. The information in those articles was about the apps themselves, not about the companies' business models. Second, we checked business database sources, such as Crunchbase, to see if we could find business model/revenue-related information there. The only information we gleaned from those searches was about founding dates and funding. As a third strategy, we reviewed either or both each app's website (as available) and app store pages to see if there was an "About" section or similar describing the company. We had hoped there might have been insights about the company's operations through that approach, but we didn't find any such information through that method either. Accordingly, all the relevant information we found about the apps is included both in the attached spreadsheet and above in our research findings.


Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "If content creators want to sell pricier monthly content subscriptions, offering stickers, pins, signed photos or t-shirts can convince fans to pay a higher fee and keep them loyal with a physical connection. That’s why patronage platform Patreon just acquired Kit, a startup building a merchandise logistics backend so creators don’t have to fiddle with spreadsheets and stuff envelopes themselves."
Quotes
  • "We were inspired by the Whole Earth Catalog, which was put together with the idea that “the user should know better what is worth getting and where and how to do the getting.” Building on this inspiration, Kit was created with the belief in a community that helps each other learn and easily discover the products they need for the activities that enrich their lives. "
Quotes
  • "Kit is a community to discover, discuss and get interesting, useful things. Whether purchased on a whim or carefully plotted and researched, everything on Kit comes from the same source: real-life experience. Kit is powered by passionate people sharing the products that get them through life efficiently and in style."
Quotes
  • "Hansel was founded by Phil and Anthony, two fathers who wanted the best gear for their children. They got sick of reading online reviews, got too busy to keep texting friends, and decided to create something simpler. Hansel was built to help everyone discover products they love from people they trust! "
Quotes
  • "Blinked currently reaches an aggregate audience of 366 million users on social media through our influencer partners. The experts and influencers on Blinked are our financial partners and are motivated to drive Blinked users. They encourage their fans and followers on other social media to follow them on Blinked and purchase their recommendation lists and earn 50 percent of any of their recommendation lists sold on the Blinked platform. "
Quotes
  • "Blinked Inc. proposes just this with its Blinked blockchain-based social media platform. Through it, consumers will be able to receive recommendations from users that they trust, and get rewards for making recommendations of their own. At the same time, advertisers will be able to use the platform for targeted ads with a token incentive model."