Can’t decide what shoes to buy? Or what book to read next? AdMob founder and former CEO Omar Hamoui is launching a new startup called Maybe to help with your decision.
Last month, Hamoui told me that he was leaving (and shutting down) Churn Labs, the startup generator that he founded with AdMob engineer Mike Rowehl, because he’d been lured away by one of the Churn startups. At the time, he wasn’t ready to say anything about the startup in question, but now he is, because a preview version of the Maybe site just went live.
Here’s how Hamoui explains his goals:
“The idea originated when my wife was shopping for a coffee table. She spent of bunch of time browsing the web, collecting her options in a gmail draft, and then sent me an email of blue links that I was supposed to click on one by one to form an opinion. By the time I got to the fourth one, I had forgotten what the first one looked like, what the prices of any of them were, and certainly had not checked reviews or anything else that would help me give her a more informed opinion. At the same time, my family was planning a vacation with a group of friends, and all of our decisions from hotels, to activities, to areas to visit, were all being made in roughly the same way.”
So when you visit the Maybe site, you create questions like “What movie should I watch this weekend?” then list all the different options you are considering. You can add items either by copy-and-pasting a link or using the Maybe bookmarklet. Once you’ve got a question that you want to ask, you can share it with specific friends on the site, or open it to the general Maybe userbase. You can also share it on Facebook and Twitter.
Choosing between products is the obvious use case, especially since your choices need to have an online presence, but you can use the site for other decisions. Questions on the Maybe front page currently include “How should I do my hair for the wedding?” and “What paleo recipe should I try next?”
And yes, there are other services out there that help you poll your friends to make decisions — there are fashion-focused apps like Fashism, as well as more general polling apps like Thumb. However, Maybe asks the question in a different way — it’s not a matter of “Do you like this?” but rather, “Here are the things I’m considering, which one should I choose?”
I poked around the site for a few minutes this morning, and I can see myself using it — the interface is clean and allows you to ask questions without too much fuss. Still, Hamoui emphasizes that this is just a preview version:
“The social component of decision making is in place but it’s missing a number of key components, most notably our mobile interface, something we believe will be far more important than our website (which is why we are taking the time to get it right). It also doesn’t yet have our research tabs, where we will automatically pull in relevant information from around the web regarding the decision you are trying to make.”