BarBird launches analytics package for venues

Social media is one of the last great marketing frontiers for bar and restaurant owners. It is likely the cheapest, easiest way for bar and restaurant owners to get more customers in the door. We recognized this when we formed BarBird and thereby used social media to power our consumer applications. Along the crazy journey that we’ve had, we discovered that bar owners need and want as much help as they can get with utilizing social media to bring in new customers, and keep customers coming back. As such, we decided to use all the interesting data we had to build out a service that would do exactly that.

Today we are pleased to announce the soft launch of our social media analytics package for venues. The social media analytics space is quite crowded so we wanted to do things differently. First, clearly, we would focus on bars/restaurants and provide them with a short, efficient and affordable report — something that a manager or owner can scan through quickly and get everything valuable he or she needs to start using social media more effectively. Secondly, we have differentiated ourselves from other analytics providers by personalizing each report for our over 75,000 venues; by comparing any given venue with it’s top 8 local competitors on a number of key metrics, bar owners can easily what they can be doing better. We’ve seen that social media strategies tend to differ between cities and we wanted to capture the uniqueness of each city by basing the report on a comparison between competitors. The BarBird analytics report is provided in both free and premium versions, the latter including upgraded features. Some of those features are:

– Picking the top 8 competitors you want to compare to.

– How do you rank vs your top 8? Vs the entire city?

– Who writes the most valuable updates? What are those updates?

– Customer feedback across 4 different networks for you and your competitors

– Actionable intelligence. An area where BarBird interprets the data for you.

Moreover, as we continue to release new features in the future, those that purchase now will be grandfathered into the updates. As venue owners begin to adopt our report, the content within our consumer apps will become measurably better; a win-win for all of our users!

As for Chile, while there have been some surprises along the way, Daniel and I have settled into a routine that more or less reflects what we had in the US. We’ve been working on our espanol and our salsa hips! We love South America and plan to spend much more time down here– the culture and people are amazing! One of our favorite things to do is to go karaoke’ing on the weekends– it is extremely rare for people down here to hear popular songs from the US sung by native English speakers and we get treated like we’re rockstars🙂

Daniel & Pierce karaoke'ing

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BarBird Moves to Chile

In late April we found out that we had been accepted to StartupChile. We had applied to many incubators, got accepted to a few, and StartupChile seemed to make the most sense. They invest the largest amount of capital into your startup and do not take any equity. All they ask is that you move to Chile for 6 months (what a great life experience). Moreover, being in Chile for six months will give us the chance to not only create a Spanish version of BarBird and saturate Santiago, but also expand to Spanish speaking countries worldwide. And– let’s face it, Latin people know how to fiesta🙂. Since StartupChile is run by the government of Chile, we will have access to a lot of connections and data that will make things easier, e.g. lists of bars in Santiago. We’re very excited about being immersed in Chilean culture and forging relationships with 110 other startups that will be attending. It will even allow us to make our first real hire!

It’s been a crazy month of trying to get a passport for Daniel in less than two weeks, tests, work visas and learning some Spanish. We’ve somehow pulled it off though and we’re leaving the country on May 30th.

Our main focus in Chile will be the Spanish version, releasing the first premium version of our analytics interface (launched beta a little while ago) and adding new features to our consumer apps. Expect some big changes in the upcoming months!

I’ll be starting a personal blog here soon to talk a little more about what’s gone on behind the scenes at BarBird for the past 7 months and also get some of our Chilean experience down on paper.

Daniel and I will be living right in the middle of Santiago in the Providencia district; we cannot wait!

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BarBird launches geoloqi layer

We are happy to announce that we have pushed live a BarBird layer within the geoloqi iPhone app. Geoloqi is a location sharing platform that does things like mapping your past locations, checking you into venues automatically and placing ‘geonotes’ which enable you to receive a push or SMS once you’re within a certain radius of a location. Geoloqi is run by two awesome people: Amber Case & Aaron Parecki. As Portland natives, we have developed a friendship with them and respect them greatly. We plan to use the geoloqi platform in the future to power some really cool features for BarBird. However, building a layer was a much simpler process than what we have planned and we wanted the geoloqi users to get some value out of BarBird. So what is a geoloqi layer?

“A layer is a set of geocoded data that you can subscribe to.”

A what now? Ok, ok, in the context of BarBird, we’re able to pull messages from our database and put them inside the geoloqi app; this works purely because they’re geocoded: they have a latitude longitude associated with them (the venue’s latitude longitude they originated from). Now as geoloqi tracks my location, it can also push me those messages when they are near me. So we decided to use our algorithm that ranks tweets to place the highest ranking tweets within our BarBird layer; so as you move around with geoloqi, you’ll get pushed high-value messages near you. In other words, As I move around any of the 50 cities BarBird is in, I can get pushed valuable bar-related messages that are near me as long as I have the geoloqi app and have subscribed to the BarBird layer. We’ve been testing it in Portland and it is super cool.

We’ve also gone ahead and attached a ‘view’ button to each push message that will load that messages page in the BarBird mobile site. This allows you to get more details about the message, venue and get directions. Geoloqi layers are great because they allow us to get our valuable information to you without you needing to do anything. Technology getting out of the way.

So if you don’t have geoloqi make sure you go download their free app; you can subscribe to our layer by clicking this link -> Subscribe to BarBird’s Best Deals on Geoloqi! Please give us feedback on the layer, we will definitely tweak our ranking algorithm based on your feedback.

tl;dr
If you subscribe to the BarBird layer within the geoloqi app, you can receive real-time push updates about great local bar-deals happening near you.

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BarBird adds tons of venues, rolls out college towns, mobile site, new design

The most salient piece of bad feedback we’ve gotten about BarBird is simply that there are not enough venues within the cities. As such, we’ve spent the past few weeks building a new tool for finding bars/restaurants in cities that have twitter accounts. We recently used this tool, codenamed ‘Birddog’, to scan over our current cities. Almost every city doubled in number of venues, a few tripled. London and New York City are currently our biggest, boasting almost 2,000 venues a piece. We’re very excited about Birddog because it gives us the ability to launch almost anywhere as long as there are twitter/facebook accounts availble. In the long-term, we hope to scan all of the US and then remove ‘areas’ altogether– replacing them with all the venues within a 30 mile radius of your location.

Another thing we’ve recognized is that there are a percentage of bars in every data set that have twitter accounts, but rarely use them. We built two features into Birddog to combat this problem; Birddog goes to the website of each bar/resto and scrapes the contact info for that venue as well as to the facebook API to see if they have a FB account. This allows us to e-mail each venue and let them know that they’ve been added to BarBird and should tweet frequently. We are currently researching if displaying facebook updates within the BarBird stream is feasible– this will allow us to add many more venues and also switch twitter accounts for facebook accounts on venues that update one over the other.

Birddog also allowed us to scan big division 1 college towns. We have used this ability to create BarBird instances branded for those colleges specifically. We’re very excited about this as we know from our experience that BarBird can be a fun, useful app for college students. That said, a number of those datasets are immature and we’ll be placing a (beta) tag on every one that we’re actively working on adding venues to. Rolling out college towns behooved some redesigning of the front page and the areas selector on the mobile apps; the changes are pretty straightforward so I shouldn’t have to explain them (and if I did I’d be worried :P). The most important one is that the mobile apps now offer our 3 closest areas based on your location which is great because it alleviates needing to scroll through all the cities.

Finally, we rolled out some new design updates recently as well as our mobile site. The mobile site has not been tested extensively (nothing really gets tested extensively) so it may not work on old mobile browsers, however, we’ve been happy with the results on most iPhone/Android browsers. We’re hoping this gives BlackBerry users some of BarBird’s utility as it may be some time before we get a BlackBerry app out the door. The mobile site certainly doesn’t look as nice as our normal site or apps, but it is lightweight and loads quickly. On first use it will ask to use your location, which it will then use to determine the 3 closest datasets to you. After you select one you’ll see a listview very similar to the mobile apps. You can change the categories using a drop down menu up top and press on updates to see a detail page.

There’s a lot of exciting stuff going on on the business side of things and I’m hoping we’ll have some big news for you soon! Go check out the new venues we’ve added in your area!

This pic makes me think of Birddog:

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BarBird–Memorable Nights

Memorable Nights

Since we started building BarBird, I’ve been thinking a lot about the simple vision behind the product. What exactly is that long-term underlying value that we’re trying to unearth using the web and make easy for our users? What was it exactly that drove me to come up with the BarBird idea and pursue it so earnestly?

That vision, I believe, is summed up by the phrase ‘Memorable Nights’. If you’re in the 21-35 range and have a tendency to check out the nightlife scene, you know what I’m talking about. Everyone has had one of those nights where they meet someone new, experience that capricious-yet-certain feeling of love at first sight, and go home with a big smile while clutching a phone number. Or maybe you go to happy hour and then out with a group of old friends from high school and have a great time reminiscing over old times and telling inside jokes. Or maybe you’ve had a bad week at work and you decide to go out dancing on Friday and manage to end up at a spot where the music is right, the volume is perfect and there is a certain authenticity in the air. Perhaps you take your friends out karaokeeing and end up buying everyone a bunch of drinks only to find that your drinks had been on special and your tab is much less than you thought. These are just a few examples of nights one might consider a ‘Memorable Night’. Memorable Nights cause you to wake up happy the next morning, feeling like last night made all those other boring, forgettable nights out worth it. In our experience, we found that these sorts of nights are rare at best. The majority of the time, we end up going out, spending a bunch of money we don’t have on covers, drinks & cabs and end up at home feeling foolish.

Memorable Nights are the motivation behind BarBird. Our goal is to increase the potential for having a ‘Memorable Night’ for a variety of people. We think there are a host of factors that go into making a night Memorable, but it begins with finding the right venue. Our entrance into this market is with a web and mobile app that gives people a better chance at finding the right venue. Whether it be drink specials, happy hours, or live music, we want people to begin their Memorable Night by seeing what’s around them and picking something that meets their preferences. We have a lot of plans for making this venue picking experience more robust and useful. Beyond that, we want to continue personalizing and socializing the experience of a night out. An obvious extension of this is making group communications easy since a night out rarely occurs without friends. Or maybe BarBird lets you chat with other BarBird users near you. We’re never short on ideas for how to make your nights out more Memorable, but we’d love to hear Memorable Nights you’ve had as well as what we can build to increase the chances of making your night out more Memorable!

Here’s a few of my own recent Memorable Nights:

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BarBird Founders Video

Here’s a silly unscripted video we did for our friends over at http://www.paperkrane.com

Hope you like it!

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BarBird Android App

As of today we have officially released the BarBird Android App. Like the iPhone app, the Android App allows you to view what is going on in real-time, in the nightlife scene, in your city. The functionality of the BarBird Android App is almost identical to the iPhone App, except with the native Android interactions included. In summary, there are two primary views, the list view and map view. The list view shows a stream of updates from bars/resto’s/clubs in your area and allows you to filter the stream based on happy hour’s, specials, live music, ladies nights, no cover, and events happening only on the night in question. The map view uses pins related to those six filters to show you what is happening near your location. The map view also has a ‘time-aware’ element to it where messages that are over 10 hours old start to become more transparent than more recent messages. From both views you can drill down to see more details on a venue and also get directions to that venue. For more details on the app functionality, check out our iPhone app description.

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