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: