The German startup community has been notorious for blatant clones of popular sites developed elsewhere (my personal favorite is Freundefeed). One startup that is sometimes associated with this trend (perhaps unjustly) is Qype, a Yelp-like site for reviews that has established a strong presence throughout Europe. CEO Stephan Uhrenbacher says that he wasn’t aware of Yelp’s existence when he launched Qype, but at this point it doesn’t really matter – Qype is on fire, and is on its way to becoming the dominant local review site in a number of countries, including England, France, and Germany.
Uhrenbacher says that Qype sees 6.3 million monthly unique visitors across The UK, France, Spain, and Germany (where the site was originally founded and receives around half its traffic). The site also recently launched a localized version for Brazil. But while Qype is multilingual, it treats each localized version as its own site – you’ll never run across a review in French if you’ve specified your preferred language as English.
So does Qype have any plans for coming to the US after its European (and more recently, South American) expansions? Uhrenbacher says that in order to take on Yelp the site would need to bring something different to the table, which could possibly be its multi-lingual capabilities. He also says that Qype is less city-centric than Yelp (I’m not entirely sure what he means by that – I’ve always found Yelp to work well in smaller towns). But for now, he says there are many more uncontested markets to expand to, so we probably won’t be seeing Qype on US shores for some time, if ever.
By mid December the site plans to launch its geo-location enabled iPhone application, which will allow users to immediately detect what restaurants and shops are nearby and view recommendations on them. The site closed an €8 million round in September, and has raised €13m to date.
Qype may be the the site to beat in Europe, but it is by no means the only competitor in that space (others major players include Trusted Places, Tipped and TouchLocal in the UK). And there’s always Yelp, which may have some international aspirations of its own. That said, Qype seems to be on a roll – after making some key talent acquisitions earlier this year, some European rivals were driven to ask the press for advice, which is rarely a good sign.