After the hit-and-run experience of group buying websites, you could forgive bricks-and-mortar small businesses for completely shunning the web, but a Sydney question-answer start-up is hoping to overcome this.
Drumo is a web app that allows users to post questions and answers about businesses and services in a particular city, and encourages businesses to reward the users who provide the most meaningful answers about a specific suburb.
It leverages the successful elements of the crowd-sourced answer community website Quora and a recent question in Sydney asked "What's your favourite restaurant in Surry Hills?". Two responses suggested Vietnamese restaurant Xage on Crown St and Spanish restaurant Cru54 on Foveaux St.
Founded by Martin Konrad and Elliott Risby, Drumo has been launched in a handful of Asian cities including Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo, as well as Sydney. The Sydney-based start-up was one of a handful of businesses flying the Aussie flag at the recent TechCrunch Disrupt conference.
Apart from the bragging rights of providing the most relevant and quick answers on the site, Konrad said businesses can provide virtual rewards that can be converted to real rewards (eg, a free coffee for 10 badges), and also target offers at "influencers".
It's a dangerous time to be targeting small businesses still reeling from the horror experience of dealing with group buying websites, which make healthy profits by flooding businesses with discount-seeking customers.
However, Drumo will solve this problem, Konrad claimed.
"The model isn't working. Businesses have learned this isn't for revenue, it's for marketing instead of an actual revenues. The group buying sites need to regroup slightly and they could benefit from a site like Drumo."
It's a good value proposition to pitch as an alternative to group buying. The Facebook sign-in connects businesses with real people. It provides the web tools for small business.
It's completely dependent on attracting influential locals. It's spread across a range of services (eg, restaurants, florists, hairdressers, etc), which makes it difficult to attract the top subject matter experts in each field. UX is exactly like Twitter, which might intimidate non-tech users.
Residents are always asking about the cool new places in their city; if the founders can crack the formula for crowd-sourcing the best answers, it could be very lucrative and launched in every city in the world.
Group buying companies could expand into this area. Also, services like Quora already cater to these areas. Google could probably integrate some services to provide this functionality.
The site looks very cool and has hit on an interesting theme in helping people find great places. However, I think it has spread itself too thin by catering to all types of businesses, and should focus on a niche (eg, yoga studios, karaoke bars, etc) and then expand horizontally. Also the Twitter-esque UX could scare off mainstream users, who are probably the people being targeted.