A startup called Bizzy launched earlier this year aiming to connect companies with their fans. However, company president Gadi Shamia said that’s not exactly what most users were looking for — and in response, his team is refocusing on business recommendations.
The site’s new goal, Shamia said, is to use data about shared preferences to suggest businesses you might like. In other words, if you tell Bizzy that you’re a fan of five different San Francisco coffee shops, and if four of those shops are among my favorites too, then there’s a good chance that I’d like your final choice, and that any coffee shops I recommend would be a good fit for you, too.
The new version of Bizzy is still in its early stages. Right now, you can visit the Bizzy site, answer 20 questions about your personal preferences, then at some point the service (a subsidiary of public company ReachLocal) will email you saying that your recommendations are ready. (Bizzy’s going for a slow rollout to make sure there’s enough data for solid recommendation.) So far, I’ve answered the questionnaire and received a list of recommendations, which included enough businesses (mostly restaurants) I already like to encourage me to check out the rest. But I’ve only seen screenshots of what the actual service will look like.
Shamia promises a very different experience than what you’ll find on business review site Yelp, which is where I usually go when I’m trying to find a restaurant. Now, I’m a fan of Yelp, but when I only have a vague idea of what I’m looking for — say, if I search for a “restaurant” near VentureBeat’s office — I’ll get a flood of results, without an easy way to home in on the choices that might be the best fit for me.
The problem, Shamia said, is that Yelp’s results aren’t personalized, and that businesses that received a great review from someone else might not match your personal tastes. You can see glimpses of a similar strategy in Microsoft’s Bing search engine, which launched its integration with Facebook today. But Bing social search is all about what your friends liked. Bizzy, on the other hand, will recommend stores that are popular with users who show similar taste, even if you don’t know them.
And the new model could be even more valuable for businesses. They can still send deals to fans who sign up to “follow” them, but they can also post deals to users who aren’t fans yet but whose preferences show that they’re a good match.