Chances are that the next place that you visit, you will know someone that has been there, and this person can give some personal advice that you trust. The only problem is that you never know who that friend is when you need it and you’ll end up relying on impersonal and often inaccurate Yelp reviews. GetBeen is the solution to this problem. The social recommendation platform aggregates your friend’s experiences and lets you trust someone you know instead of a random Yelper. If you want to start actually verifying your recommendations start with GetBeen.
AlleyWatch chatted with founder and CEO Zach Chandis about the company and the memorable story behind the origin of the company.
Tell us about the product or service.
GetBeen is a mobile app for iOS that allows users to share their favorite places, discover reviews created by their friends, explore what’s nearby, and search for any restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels and shops in the world.
How is it different?
GetBeen alleviates the pain of unreliable online reviews. Unlike any other app, GetBeen only shows what places your friends have been, not the reviews from disgruntled strangers, and untrusted sources.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
GetBeen is primarily targeting consumers interested in food, drink, shopping, nightlife, and general travel & leisure. Full-service restaurants in the U.S. are predicted to grow to $201B in 2017, while the global hotel industry is expected to increase to $550B in 2016. Direct spending on travel and leisure totaled $651B in 2015. The GetBeen advantage, over incumbents like TripAdvisor and Yelp, is users can give and receive trusted friends’ recommendations directly through the app from restaurants & bars to stores & hotels, and everything in between. In 2015, 82% of North American consumers trusted recommendations from relatives and friends with 38% of them reading online reviews with their phones.
What is the business model?
The business model for GetBeen is to provide an easy-to-use mobile app that will save users time by giving them trusted recommendations from their friends, rather than searching through strangers’ reviews and ratings. In a constantly improving social media world, GetBeen is the next evolution on how consumers search for places, maintain lists of their recommended places, and share them with friends. The ancient practice of creating excel sheets, sending group texts, or mass messaging friends to get recommendations is outdated. The GetBeen app is the database that amalgamates users’ likes, dislikes, favorite places, and other places they want to try into lists that can be easily customized and shared with friends. A simple search function allows users to find any specific or type of venue they’re looking for, with results filtered by popularity amongst friends or by distance. Each venue has detailed information showing friends’ reviews, comments, pictures, menus, directions, the website, and more. GetBeen is the one-stop app that has everything the consumer is looking for in trusted recommendations, whether it’s a night out or a vacation.
What inspired the business?
The inspiration of GetBeen occurred over a few drinks with a couple of friends that were sharing stories about all the different places they had traveled and their favorite local spots. After some cumbersome written-down and mental notes of all these places, the logical question became, “why isn’t there an app to make it easier to share trusted recommendations between friends?” And that was the first step of inception
The recommendation space is a crowded one. How do you plan to gain widespread adoption among other offerings that are already social integrated and have achieved scale like Tripadvisor and Yelp?
The recommendation space is definitely crowded, with a number of incumbents that have done a fantastic job bringing together as much information as possible about all the different places around the world over the turn of the century. The next logical step to bring everything together in a more efficient manner, is providing consumers a more specific and unique user-experience. In 2015, 82% of North American consumers trusted recommendations from relatives and friends with 38% of them reading online reviews with their phones. Both consumers and venues are frustrated with the current review process of the existing companies, though it’s a necessary evil. GetBeen aims to target the same demographic, but provide an enhanced experience that gives users direct access to what they want to know from trusted sources, rather than a stranger who has different preferences.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Over the next six months, GetBeen plans on increasing user acquisition while also driving in-app activity. The general concept and mission of the app has received great feedback, so there is demand. Increasing brand awareness will help build-out the user-base, while at the same time develop a better understanding of user needs / interests through retention analytics. GetBeen currently has and is open to partnerships, which includes restaurant groups, promoters, hotels, influencers, etc. As the app begins to reach critical mass, these partnerships will likely increase, specifically with companies in related services. Additionally at this point, it will make economic sense for local vendors to use GetBeen as a direct link to consumers through various coupons and sponsorships.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Starting out, I was very cautious talking about GetBeen to people, even requiring confidentiality agreements. However, I found that this was unnecessary and caused more paranoia than anything else. Every person brings a unique perspective and experience to share, especially fellow entrepreneurs who generally always want to be as helpful as possible. Learning from others’ mistakes, helped me avoid the same ones during my process. As such, I always try to be open to advice or criticism, as both circumstances will help me form or adapt my vision.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Anthony Bourdain would be very interesting to meet. I believe he’s exactly the type of user we’re looking for, someone who travels, loves food, and even more so loves sharing his experiences with others so that they can try his recommended places.
Why did you launch in New York?
I grew up in New Jersey, but moved to New York due to my previous job in finance. I believe New York is a fantastic place for GetBeen to launch, with all the different types of food, neighborhoods, and new venues opening every day. New Yorkers are also generally adventurous, enjoy trying new places, like to travel, and love sharing stories with each other.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
When I used to live on the Upper East Side, my favorite restaurant was Elios. The atmosphere, food, and service were incredible, making you feel like you were eating a home cooked meal. Since then, I’ve moved to the Chelsea / West Village area and I love Piora. It’s a charming place with fantastic food, amazing cocktails, a great wine list, and the employees make you feel like you’re family from the owner down to the busboys.