Last night, Tech Cocktail had the pleasure of showcasing 11 up-and-coming startups at our final Chicago Mixer of 2012 (and possibly ever). Prior to the event, we asked you to let us know who was the hottest. The tribe has spoken.
Evzdrop, the location-based interest network and iOS app (Android app coming soon) that allows people stay connected to what’s happening at places in real time, took home the honor of “Chicago’s Hottest Showcasing Startup”, and along with it 5,000 Business ExtrAA® points* courtesy of American Airlines.
In essence, Evzdrop pulls concepts from Yelp, Foursquare, and Twitter to construct a unique snapshot of a particular venue. Like the tips feature of Foursquare, users share micro-reviews (called “Drops”) about their current establishment- but utilizes geofencing to ensure a truly location-based insight. Similar to Yelp, Evzdrop is focused on creating an interest graph around a location, as opposed to connecting users with their friends – but again, geofencing assures credibility. And like Twitter, the reviews are limited to 140 characters, rendering pithier commentary.
For businesses, Evzdrop provides a pair of free services – a dashboard revealing real-time insights into the patrons’ demographics and sentiment, and the ability to post “green Drops” (highlight posts from the business). The premium service allows businesses to run custom campaigns, notifying customers of deals/specials via push notification. Clients currently using Evzdrop include The Berghoff, Blue Man Group, Dana hotel & spa, ACME Hotel Company, amongst many others.
Tech Cocktail caught up with David Rush, co-founder and CEO of the Chicago’s hottest showcasing startup to learn more.
Tech Cocktail: What was the inspiration behind Evzdrop? What do you enjoy most about working on it?
David Rush: We felt there was a way to leverage location to bring more data integrity and real-time value to the review and feedback process that exists today. In doing so, we knew we’d create a valuable ‘interest network’ that could inform and entertain both consumers and businesses that wanted to stay plugged into what was happening at places in real-time. It’s a thrill to be able to try and create a window of insight into the hearts and minds of people when the emotion is strongest…while it’s happening.
Tech Cocktail: Who is your greatest competitor, and how do you differentiate yourself?
Rush: Probably traditional review sites. We’re differentiated in that only people at the location can create a micro-review and it’s happening in real-time. In contrast, the traditional review process is usually dated, requires a long description, and may be filtered or even fraudulent. Last, we’ve create an engagement platform so these businesses can communicate in real-time to reward, recognize, or rectify something before the person has left.
Tech Cocktail: What is the biggest advantage and disadvantage of starting up in Chicago?
Rush: The biggest advantage is that we have the second biggest city in the country with an ever growing start up community that is embracing new technologies and stories like ours. The disadvantage is not being on the ground floor of Silicon Valley or New York to leverage the talent pool of developers and other resources as we scale. This is changing though and a lot of talented people are right here in Chicago.
Tech Cocktail: Describe a challenging moment or a crucial decision you’ve faced as an entrepreneur. How did you deal with it, and what did you learn from it?
Rush: The decision to do this full time last spring was a big decision as we wanted to make sure we’d validated the market opportunity, investment appetite, and were making a calculated risk. We dealt with it by doing the research and getting validation from credible sources that we were onto something that had an unmet business need and unmet consumer need. We learned that at some point, you have to jump in full time or you won’t be able to produce your best work in window of time you envision.
Tech Cocktail: What’s one quirky fact about you, the Evzdrop team, or your office culture?
Rush: We let a different person each day pick the music that will play softly in our office so we get a good mix of genres depending on the day of the week!
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*For additional information about the Business ExtrAA® program, visit www.businessextraa.com