Bizzy picks up where Foursquare ends

Foursquare is fun and good for the ego, but Bizzy has a "usefulness" factor that just cannot be beat.
Written by Jennifer Leggio, Contributor

Breakfast is, by far, my favorite food group. It's also my favorite meal to eat out. Despite their best intentions, the breakfast restaurants that I used to frequent became tired. I wanted something new. Enter Bizzy.

Bizzy is a recommendation engine that leverages a person's favorite places in order to create recommendations on a bevy of items: restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and a host more. When a user signs up for Bizzy, he or she is given a quiz about his or her favorite locations in several different categories. The user is then matched, so to speak, with others who common favorites and then Bizzy begins recommending additional locations. Each user can continue to further fine-tune the experience by answering more questions from Bizzy or noting their own favorite places. The recommendation engine is smart, as I experienced first-hand with my breakfast hunt.

"The recommendation algorithm takes into account the places you like and then finds other people with the same taste as you and bases your recommendations on their other favorites," said Ryan Kuder, vice president of marketing for Bizzy. "Imagine that two people like four coffee shops in common.  Their thoughts on other coffee shops make great recommendations for each other -- and they don't even have to know each other.  On the other hand, if we like the same four coffee shops, it doesn't necessarily mean that we have similar tastes in clothing stores.  Bizzy takes all of this into account when it makes recommendations for you."

Here's a quick view of Bizzy's recommendation portal:

As indicated in the top navigation shown above, there are several categories in which users can dig to find what they are seeking. During my great breakfast hunt, I was able to dig a couple levels down to find the perfect spot with great eggs benedict. This type of granular functionality exists in most of Bizzy's topics. To make matters even easier, Bizzy this week introduced the ability for users to add their own venues, too, just in case someone hasn't yet recommended them.

Bizzy users can update their favorites and gather recommendations through either the web portal or via an iPhone application. The latter is especially handy for users on-the-go who need quick recommendations for services in a specific location. In addition to the algorithm that looks at any Bizzy users with common interests, users can also connect their Facebook and Twitter profiles in order to incorporate into the mix recommendations based on their social graph. See below for the subtle difference.

Making Bizzy even more prevalent, this week the company also announced that it has added Foursquare check-in locations into its database in order to significantly grow its company list. While this doesn't integrate Bizzy and Foursquare, and users cannot check into Foursquare from Bizzy, it does give users an added amount of flexibility and frees them from having to add venues if they are already listed on Foursquare.

As a recovering Foursquare addict, I need to call out that Bizzy picks up where the geolocational game ends. While Foursquare allows users to check in, get on their friend network leaderboard, earn badges, gain mayorships and sometimes take part in offers from businesses, it doesn't go the extra mile to make recommendations within the social graph or even frequent venue attendees. While Foursquare is fun and good for the ego, it lacks a level of "usefulness" in terms of trying to find restaurants, stores or any other types venues. Bizzy is not only fun in the way that you can see what some of your friends favorites are, but you can use the application to determine where you should go next. Like breakfast.

Bizzy is technically still in beta as it continues to add features and stretch to new geographic areas -- something that the Foursquare database will immensely help with. Kuder says that the company is slowly but surely expanding the beta as more venues become available.

"We want to make sure that people have a great first experience with their recommendations.  Right now, we're letting people into the beta as soon as they have a few recommendations to react to," he said. "In places like San Francisco and New York, this usually happens pretty quick.  In places without a lot of users, it may take a bit longer.  The best ways to get better recommendations is to get your friends on board sharing their favorites and adding more favorites of your own."

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