Citiservi, a small startup out of Spain, is working on a smart local search platform. They’re up against a number of recognized competitors – 11870 or even the local yellow pages, Páginas Amarillas – but their approach is a simpler UI and a different search platform. They’ve just launched Citiservi Italy and Citiservi UK.
Unlike a number of local search packages that rely on a navigational directory, Citiservi does search and search alone. The search engine is based on Sphinx, a free open-source SQL full-text search engine. For those who aren’t familiar with the technology, a number of big names run on it—take Craigslist for instance.
Citiservi boasts a semantic search engine that works with an internally developed stemmer for Spanish and with the original Sphinx stemmer for English. What does that mean exactly? Well, if you do a normal search, you’ll get only so many relevant results that exactly match your “plumber in Manchester” search.
Citiservi on the other hand will take into account “plumbers in Manchester” or “plumbing…”. In English that may seem simple, but for those of you who speak Spanish or Italian, it can get quite a bit more complex. So Citiservi will bring back a much more complete list of relevant results.
Being a local search engine, Citiservi takes into account how you word your searches and whether you are trying to limit your search to a particular town, region, postal code or even street. Essentially, they’re working on serving up the right results taking into account natural language search to decipher user intent. No doubt, this is something that will take time to polish.
Citiservi’s monetization model will be based on lead generation for businesses and service providers, wherein users are prompted to request proposals. Through their infrastructure, Citiservi manages the entire proposal request and communication process between qualified registered businesses and their potential clients. Though unlike the German MyHammer or the recently covered Mybuilder, Citiservi charges per lead, rather than on % of fees paid to the hired service provider.
Citiservi is running on 550.000 € funding, amassed through private and personal funding. Recently the company was one of the few to receive 350.000 € in funding from the NEOTEC Initicative of the Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial (CDTI), public funds that are allocated through a highly competitive selection process for new IT initiatives.
Citiservi USA and Citiservi Mexico have been in beta just over a month. In the long run, their aim is to shine with their technology, with a simple and intuitive user interface and relevant, intended results in order to stand out amongst the local search pack on a European level. This will not be easy, particularly in markets other than Spain, where there is plenty of local competition.