Nextdoor: a social network for your neighborhood

Stealth startup Nextdoor believes it has cracked the social/local code, and is today launching a digital platform  that brings together  your real-world neighbors.

Nextdoor is creating the “neighborhood graph” by combining the best of  Web 2.0 sites like  Yelp and Facebook, with the features of early Web tools such as Craigslist and Yahoo! Groups to reconnect neighborhoods and re-establish a sense of community, on and offline.

Nextdoor has the look and feel of Facebook, with an activity feed, and tabbed navigation, where you’re able to look for a babysitter, and check out recommendations left by your neighbors. Anyone who has used the Internet during the last decade will feel right at home.

Nextdoor has gone to great lengths to create an experience that is authentic, and where trust and identity are the operative words, says co-founder and chief executive officer Nirav Tolia.

There are four mechanisms for verifying your address, all of which inject significant friction into the sign-up process, he says. You can request postcards with a unique code; your home phone number attached to your home address can be called with a code; you can can enter your credit card for verification; or you can be invited by a verified neighbor.

“The amount of friction is directly correlated to the value you derive from being in an environment is where everyone is verified,” says Tolia.

Of course there’s a business model somewhere in all of this. It could be merchant services, it could be deals, or something else. Though he wouldn’t specify, he said there are lots of potential opportunities around connecting businesses with customers who live and shop in the area, once they’ve nailed the product, and have grown the user base. “As we’ve done with everything else, we’ll follow what the users ask for,” says Tolia.

It cost the company $60,000 to buy the domain name, said Tolia, but he thinks it’s definitely worth it. He pointed out that all the most powerful tech companies have two “o’s” in the name. Facebook, Yahoo! Google, — even Microsoft. “And now Nextdoor,” says Tolia.

Nextdoor is backed by Benchmark Capital and Shasta Ventures.

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