WhereMark Launches Location-Based Service, A Cautionary Tale

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Okay, here’s the deal, if you are a startup unveiling a new location-based service in a market saturated with location-based services please tell us what is unique about you vs. the 800 or so other services out there and please please whatever you do don’t copy the RULE.fm pitch, which we liked the first time around.

WhereMark

“We are writing to you in an awkward state of euphoria and exhaustion. This combination is resulting from 15 months of being strung out on more Diet Coke than a human should consume, a sleep debt rivaling the national deficit, and finally going live with our startups newest service.”

RULE.fm

“Another late night, we’re tired, hopped up on caffeine, malnourished and could probably use a shower…but man do we love this startup S#!T. We are sitting here with the launch of our productivity tool rule.fm ( http://rule.fm – screenshots attached) around the corner.”

I’m mostly writing this hoping this will be last time I’ll see the mention of a caffeinated beverage combined with sleepless nights in an email, unless its an emergency. When I wrote “How To Get Our Attention” a month ago, I didn’t mean go to thesaurus.com and start switching out RULE.fm’s pitch word for word. It wasn’t even good when RULE.fm wrote it, just honest and not cookie cutter. Copying it completely defeats the purpose.

Well since we’re here, what about WhereMark as a product? The concept behind WhereMark’s newest Google-maps enabled offering (also called WhereMark) is actually quite cool. It allows you to share bookmarked locations or “WhereMarks” with your friends on Facebook, with the location and the data surrounding it being the focal point instead of a user checkin.

Unfortunately both the Augmented Reality iPhone app and the WhereMark social location web service are not yet fully integrated, and thus suffer from some of the most confusing UI issues I’ve ever seen.

The web service runs Facebook Connect, yet it took me multiple tries to actually get it to connect. Accessing the iPhone app was not an issue, but using the landscape mode-only app to add actual “WhereMarks” is completely unintuitive. ProTip: You have to pass the initial Augmented Reality dashboard under “Search,” then hit “My WhereMarks” then “Add.”

The most egregious UI offense? The WhereMark input field on the iPhone app asks you input a URL for the place you are sharing. I’m sorry, but how many places correspond to URLs? Second most egregious offense, I used the web service to share a WhereMark with a friend on Facebook earlier today, and my friend has not yet received it.

To be fair, WhereMark is not the first startup to rewrite RULE.fm, I’ve seen at least 5 similar violations. And once you get past LBS fatigue, what founders Ken Carter and Matt Tesch are aiming for here is actually useful and could turn into something great once they work out the kinks. I’m totally down to “log in, find my favorite pizza place, and share it with some friends!” as services like Foursquare and Facebook Places currently do not explicitly have this functionality.

And to WhereMark’s credit, the founders were exceptionally good sports when I called them on the pitch fail.

From Carter:

“As for the ‘How To Get Our Attention, A Case Study’ post, yes, we did take the advice given. I even adopted the bullet point format to tell our story (missing only personal details) and left it up to TC to tell if it was interesting. That post made me realize how boring our press release was in December and that our two guys working nights trying to build a startup might be the better read.”

Well, in a sense yes.



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