Crowdsourcing has become a popular device in helping decide what your plans should be, and in some cases it can save a lot of time and produce great results. Other times, you know you are not going to fall in line with the crowd and you need more like-minded people giving you the ratings and reviews to make your decision. So instead of bothering everyone by crowdsourcing on Facebook try out Etch. Etch allows you to see ratings and reviews from the people you know and trust about the unknown places you have yet to explore yourself. The easy to use app is giving you the personalized solution to crowdsourced decision making you always wanted.
Today we sit down with the Etch cofounder Michael Guigli to talk about the company and how its technology is best utilized.
Tell us about the product or service.
Etch is a location-based app that makes it really easy to save your favorite places and share them with friends. Also, you have the ability to discover new restaurants, bars, and other local businesses based on the places your friends are saving.
How is it different?
Etch is a personalized take on common third-party review sites and apps such as Yelp and Google Maps. Unlike those services, a location’s popularity on Etch is not determined by public, crowdsourced reviews or the number of stars it has received. Fundamentally, crowdsourcing works great for objectivity. However, this process does not account for individual style and preferences, which heavily influence our dining and shopping decisions.
Instead, we created Etch to make it easy to access great local businesses powered by the people who know you the best. Because we believe a single recommendation from a friend carries a lot more value than a hundred reviews from complete strangers.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We’re going after mobile local advertising spend. In 2016, the US market for mobile local ad spend alone is estimated to be over $11 billion and growing to more than $26 billion by 2020. Our specific focus will be on search and native ads, which are the fastest growing segments in this space.
What is the business model?
Currently, our primary focus is on product development and user acquisition. However, we’ll initially monetize by selling flat-rate advertising subscriptions to local businesses and eventually graduate to an auction-based ad model. Etch’s unique value for businesses will be the ability to hyper-target users based on preferences we can derive from the places those users are saving.
What inspired the business?
We started Etch because we couldn’t remember all the great NYC restaurants and bars we visited. On location, we wanted an easy way to save our favorite places that wouldn’t distract or interfere with our real life experiences. Also, we found it increasingly difficult to trust crowdsourced reviews and decided to create a more personalized way to discover local businesses from the people we know and trust.
Many have attacked the location/bookmarking space – how does your solution overcome some of the pain points that previous companies faced?
The problem we identified with most location bookmarking apps is that they don’t offer anything new to the user. They work fine for storing your favorite spots, but what about when you’re looking for a new restaurant? With Etch, the core functionality is saving a location. However, we designed the app through a social lens so people can easily share and receive recommendations from their friends. This combination of utility and social enables Etch to attract and retain users.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
In the next 6 months, our goal is to raise a seed round and to grow our user base to 10,000 users. The investment will be used to accelerate our pace of development and to support our marketing initiatives.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Deciding when to go all in. Everyone’s personal and professional situations are different, but at some point your startup will require 100% of your time and energy in order to succeed. The timing of this move can make or break your company.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Fred Wilson. Having made investments in companies like Twitter and Foursquare, it would be great to get his perspective on the intersection of social media and local advertising.
Why did you launch in New York?
We launched in New York for two reasons. First, it’s home to three out of four of Etch’s co-founders. Second, it’s really difficult to remember all the places you’ve visited and loved because NYC is packed with so many great restaurants, bars, and other local businesses.
What’s your favorite rooftop bar in NYC to unwind?
Salvation Taco! This place means a lot to us because it’s where we got the idea for Etch. A week after being there, Brad (another Etch co-founder) and I couldn’t remember the name of the rooftop bar where we enjoyed a great margarita. At that point, we decided to create Etch so we would never forget our favorite places again.