Next Wednesday, November 12, an impressive gathering of startups and mobile-industry poohbahs — everyone from major VCs from firms such as Kleiner Perkins to executives from companies such as T-Mobile, AT&T, CBS, Verizon, Alltel, Comcast, Nokia, Microsoft, and R/GA, will meet in Mountain View, California, to choose America's Next Top Mobile Startup at Under the Radar. As a moderator, I will be previewing the event by providing snapshots of the companies whose sessions I am facilitating.
GoodRec takes a very different approach from the services it'll inevitably be compared with. It was built from the outset with an eye towards offering on-the-go recommendations via mobile phone for the sort of things you're most likely to ask your friends about. Restaurants, bars, and local businesses like a Yelp, yes, but also books, movies, wine, and other products such as consumer electronics.
Reviews are tagged with "thumbs up," "thumbs down," or "mixed bag" and you get 160 characters to explain. The thumbs up or down feature solves the problem that star-rating systems: Everything ends up being about 3.5 stars. And the character limit prevents this from being about you or your friends' dream of being a professional critic. No gasbagging. No one cares.
The idea, of course, is that your friends will care about the quick recommendation. I don't personally see inviting my friends to another service, but you can add GoodRec to Facebook and Twitter and have your recommendations show up in your friends' news feeds, which should seed the service with users.
GoodRec is only two months old, and while CEO Mihir Shah wouldn't reveal numbers, the service doesn't feel like one of those ghost-town social networks where there's no activity — so it appears people are using it. Shah reports that 40% of his users are contributing reviews, which is at least double and maybe quadruple the norm. "One person has posted 1,000 reviews so far," he says. Is it Scoble, I asked? I was just kidding, but after our laughter subsided, Shah made it clear he'd love to reach Scoble's 37,823 Twitter followers.