February 11, 2013
Recently, I’ve been looking in the cities around me for the best and most interesting places to eat. Looking through Yelp and Google Local is helpful, but these sites seem to fall on two sides of the spectrum: hot or not. Typically, the reviews are raving fans or raging disbelievers. Facebook’s sporadic profile status reviews are just as unhelpful. Where do I find the most informational reviews? Maybe it’s time to take a look at the San Francisco startup, Traffic.
Tech Cocktail: Who does Traffic target?
Jordan Dodds: Traffic (@traffic) is for anyone that loves a good recommendation on somewhere to go from a person whose opinions they trust. On the flip-side, Traffic is also for people who like to tell their friends where to go.
Tech Cocktail: Who are the founders of Traffic?
Tech Cocktail: What was the inspiration behind Traffic?
Dodds: We were inspired to start Traffic because we began to notice a lot of restaurants becoming 3.5 stars on review sites. We noticed people were going on to either blast a place or sing it’s praises, but neither of those helped us decide on whether or not we should go there. We think there is a need for lengthy, in-depth reviews, but the majority of the time, we just want to know if someone we know (and trust) has been somewhere and what they thought. The most enjoyable part of working on Traffic has been already finding new places to go in San Francisco just based on places our beta-testers have reported on.
Tech Cocktail: Who is Traffic’s greatest competitor, and how do you differentiate yourself?
Dodds: In the mobile startup space, we compete with the recommendation app Livestar. They have built a good product, but we are coming at trusted recommendations from a different angle. Where they are aggregating a lot of reviews from 3rd-party sources, Traffic focuses on personal network-powered content combined with a much simpler user experience.
Tech Cocktail: What is the biggest advantage and disadvantage of starting up in San Francisco?
Dodds: This is kind of like a Michael Scott answer… the advantages and disadvantages are one in the same. The biggest advantage of being in San Francisco is being surrounded by smart and driven people. The disadvantage is that smart people are always looking for more smart people and so the competition is pretty hard.
Tech Cocktail: Describe a challenging moment or a crucial decision for Traffic. How did you deal with it, and what did you learn from it?
Dodds: The most challenging decision so far has been finding a technical cofounder. We are still dealing with this, but we have learned a bit already.
1.) You have to drink a lot of coffee.
2.) There is a lot of pressure to have a technical cofounder, but you want to make sure the team is a good fit – don’t settle.
3.) Have as many conversations as you can. People will give you great advice if you just listen.
Tech Cocktail: What’s one quirky fact about you, your team, or your office culture?
Dodds: One morning a week (9am to 1pm) we don’t get on our macs. We began to notice how often you just roll out of bed and start staring at your screen and begin typing. It’s good to get away from the screen and just sit outside or walk around.
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