The idea of discovering items, products and locations around you is a challenge that a number of startups and companies are trying to solve, including Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp and many others. Today, Trover, a start-up that is the brainchild of Expedia and Zillow co-founder Rich Barton, Jason Karas and Andrew Coldham; is launching today as a mobile discovery network where people can share location-specific discoveries of places and things in a visual way. You can download Trover’s iOS app here.
Barton and Karas tell me that the app aims to replicate the feeling of strolling around neighborhood, window shopping, and discovering new things in your location. When you open the app, you can sign in with Facebook, and the app will show you a gris of photographs based on your location.
The first photographs in the grid are those of objects or locations closest to you. The mosaic gives users thumbnails of Instagram-like photos featuring places to see or things to do nearby.
You can snap a picture, create a quick description and Trover automatically tags it with location data. You’ll also be able to see which of your Facebook friends have posted a discovery close to your locations. And you can also follow individuals on the network that fit with your interests (i.e. graffiti spotter, Italian foodie and more). Each discovery has its own profile page where the creator can leave a comment, and location. Obervers can the leave their own observations as well
During a limited spring trial, open to Facebook members only, the Trover community attracted more than 70,000 users in 150 countries. The company says that an Android app is currently in development.
Trover is funded by TravelPost, which raised $9.8 million Series A investment from General Catalyst Partners, Ignition Partners and Benchmark Capital.
The immediate comparison upon using the app is that Trover seems like a Yelp meets Instagram meets Foursquare because the combination of observation, location, as well as high-quality photo content. And with the various social integrations, Trover adds an element of intelligence to the app. While there’s no shortage of discovery apps on the market, Trover may be on to something by combining all these elements into one, visually appealing package.