With the proliferation of social networks today, we are by no means at a loss when it comes to connecting with our friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. However, in today’s highly networked world, we’re finding that there’s a lot of noise; it has become increasingly difficult to share stories, images, and links (or ask questions and seek assistance) from a targeted group of people. Those that can really help. A startup launching today at TechCrunch Disrupt, called LocalHero, has developed a mobile networking app that aims to help you make these targeted connections (and turn your friends into heroes).
But what does this mean IRL? Let’s say you’ve just joined a local softball league and you’re looking for a new mitt, but you don’t know what brand to buy or where you should go to shop. It just so happens that some of your friends are avid softballers, and you know that they would be the perfect group to ask for advice. LocalHero wants to be an easy way for you to connect with those people so that they can either lend you their mitt, or help you find the right place to go to buy one.
How does LocalHero facilitate this? No, not by magic. The startup pulls information from your go-to social networks, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, mixes that with location-enabled functionality, to create a data profile of your friends that are nearby and have the right skills (or interests) that would be relevant to your search.
While social networking apps have connected us in unthinkable ways, and we’re sharing our friends, our photos, and our location, there still aren’t many options for people looking to tap a specific group of friends without broadcasting to the entire network or creating specialized lists. LocalHero Co-founder and CEO Ana Baltodano said that she and her team want to create a smart way for friends to take action to become saviors to their friends in need.
The co-founder said that LocalHero was created to be useful in a range of requests, from finding friends interested in joining a shared activity, to utilizing the knowledge of particular acquaintances to solve a problem, to more personal requests that you don’t want to share with strangers. In this sense, LocalHero is a bit Zaarly, a bit Katango, and a bit Yahoo Answers. Or a smart Craigslist for friends, if you will.
For LocalHero’s mobile app, users post requests for goods or requests, which users view in a stream that includes both general LocalHero users as well as one’s friends. Users can add photos and enrich the question, or request, with tags, and the app automatically notifies these people of your request — you can then scroll through the tags your friends and users have.
From the tech side, the LocalHero team wanted to bring in the social graph and interest graph, and cross reference those against each other, pulling from a possible set of thousands of users to provide the user with just a few possible heroes (the “thousands” of users come from the entire LocalHero network, which currently stands at about 15,000).
In terms of monetization, LocalHero is still considering different monetization strategies, with the leading contender being targeted local advertising both on the web and mobile app. The smart backend tech makes it easy to find local experts, but the startup also envisions commercial applications as well, and, specifically, LocalHero is in talks with both potential automotive and travel sites.
For more, check out the video below: