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Imagine walking down the street and getting a ping from your friend about the restaurant you’re standing next to. Your iPhone sends you a notification that this place is one you must check out. Meet Blipboard.

Blipboard’s just-launched mobile app for iOS lets you know about all the cool things happening around you and lets you “tune” into location-based updates from friends and professionals.

The product had its first public showing at DEMO, the conference in Santa Clara, Calif. “Tune in to people and places, walk around your city, get alerts about awesome things nearby,” cofounder, Aneil Mallavarapu told the audience. Users can follow people and places as they move around their city. “You can tune into businesses you like, and tune out of those you don’t,” he explained. According to Mallavarapu, the product can best be described as “Twitter for nearby.”

The panel of sages on stage at DEMO were impressed by Blipboard’s presentation with a few reservations. “I am worried it would buzz me a lot once you turn it on,” said Josh Elman of Greylock Partners. “On other hand, I am always curious about what’s around me and if they have the best data-set, I would use it over Yelp.”

“If they have the ability to bring legacy Twitter data into the present, that would be a winner,” said Jason Mendelson of Foundry Group. “I’m excited about this one.”

The company admits to mining inspiration from Twitter and greatly appreciating its simplicity. But the app’s inception has an interesting story behind it:

“I was trained as a cell biologist and biochemist,” Blipboard co-founder Mallavarapu told us via email. “A few years back, I wrote a computer language when I was a systems biologist at Harvard. It simulated the biochemistry of cell-cell communication. Now, I didn’t start Blipboard because of these ideas. Blipboard came out of thinking deeply about how social networks like Twitter are used and why they become popular. But there are some shared themes. Cells signal each other with molecules. Blipboard is about people signaling each other using pins on a map.”

The company’s app is only available natively for iOS now, but it plans to expand to Android, Windows Phone, and the web. The app is totally free, so to make money it will explore “opportunities to build a business around connecting retailers with their best customers.”

San Francisco-based Blipboard was founded in January 2012 and has five full-time employees and five part-time contractors. The bootstrapped startup hopes to use this week’s DEMO conference as a launch pad for awareness that could help it attract funding.

Blipboard is one of 75 companies and 6 student “alpha” startups chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Fall 2012 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After we make our selections, the chosen companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.

Photo credit: Blipboard


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