Bizzy Makes Recommendations Better Than Your Friends

Your friend Joe knows the best pizza joints in New York. But can you trust his taste in taco trucks in LA?

While most social media recommendation platforms help users cull advice from friends – sometimes guiding them to make new friends so that their reviews are more trusted – Bizzy takes a different approach.

Bizzy is designed to help users answer the question, “Where should I go right now?” using ranking data from people its algorithm concludes has similar tastes – be they friends or strangers.

Bizzy obtains information from users several ways. Its website asks open-ended questions on preferred places, with answers via a drop-down list or simply entering the venue name. As with all aspects of Bizzy, the questions are presented with humor and variety that are less likely to create user fatigue. From Bizzy’s mobile applications, the Checking Out feature offers a simple, three button scale for rating. Users don’t “check in” verifying that they are at the venue, so entering ratings is not limited to current location.

The recommendations are processed by the Bizzy back end to find others who have the same favorite places as the user. Users can look at a list of people Bizzy deems similar, as well as shared favorite places, to help place value on their recommendations. In theory, the more information users input, the more accurate Bizzy’s recommendations will be. At present, there is no function to connect to similar people; based on the Bizzy concept, it seems unnecessary.

Users can add tips via the mobile apps, but Bizzy touts, “There are no reviews to read, no conflicting reports, no sifting through hundreds of listings to find the right place. Just you, your favorites, and scores of people like you, helping you discover the best local places for you.” This distinguishes Bizzy from other social recommendation sites where, for example, both Morton’s and Chipotle can get five-star ratings and users fend for themselves to determine relevancy.

Bizzy does not offer any deals, assuming its users are more interested in finding the right place, not a discount. VP Marketing Ryan Kuder told Social Times that Bizzy’s revenue model would be based on venues wanting to market to those with interest in their offering, rather than driven primarily by price or location vectors.

The company was founded by Gadi Shamia and is a fully owned subsidiary of ReachLocal. Gadi cofounded TopManage, offering management and CRM solutions for small business, which was later acquired by SAP. At SAP, he was responsible for U.S. small business sales and marketing and then the global small business product group. Gadi joined ReachLocal in 2009 to develop Bizzy.

Updates and new features have been rolling out at a brisk pace since Bizzy’s launch in November 2010. With its revenue model as yet unstated and parent company ReachLocal acquiring local deals company DealOn, one would not be surprised to find Bizzy sson competing more directly with platforms such as Yelp and Urbanspoon on one side and Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places on the other. As a fun, friendly and increasingly useful application, Bizzy is attracting users and businesses; the question is whether the company’s long-term strategy will provide sufficient differentiation to keep participants engaged.

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