Friendticker recycles Foursquare's model for Germany, but with a decent CRM backend

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Logo Friendticker[Germany] Since Foursquare never officially checked in to Germany, another company has decided to become the local Mayor. The clone company Friendticker came out of its beta on Friday with a banging underground party in one of Berlin’s secret club locations. Officially, the business of ruling Germany’s location wars starts today.

As is generally widely known, Germany has a very environmentally sustainable economy. There are recycling bins everywhere. So it’s nice to see the recycling has extended to the layout and functionality of Friendticker. The website and the iPhone app resemble Foursquare with only minor changes and the browser bar’s favicon looks very much like Facebook’s – only in purple. Even the company name is recycled: The founders bought it from the deadpooled German Twitter clone Frazr which used it as an alternative.

Friendticker screenNevertheless, despite the obvious comparisons, look under the hood and Friendticker has features you won’t find in Foursquare and Gowalla that mainly allow users to earn badges like points earned in a game. At Friendticker, a user with the most check-ins does not only become President of a location, he also gets real value in exchange.

Friendticker is focused on loyalty rewards and users can change their badges into vouchers that are worth money. The first partner is the Grand Hotel Esplanade in Berlin. For five nights in its Harry’s New York Bar you get a complimentary upgrade on your next stay, which means a suite for the price of a simple room. Other rewards come from clothing company März München, students’ online shop or the night clubs MMX and Goya. More partnerships are on the way.

The brands get an interface from their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to Friendticker and thus change which reward items to offer as well as where and when they are available. That’s another advantage over Foursquare where items must be generated by six company employees, as Friendticker CEO Florian Resatsch explained to TechCrunch. The brand may not even be tied to a permanent set of locations. For example, a band that wants to reward fans for coming to multiple concerts on its tour could offer reward items like skipping the queue at the venue or meeting a member of the band.

Friendticker founders Uwe Sandner, Florian Resatsch and Martin Pischke

Friendticker founders Uwe Sandner, Florian Resatsch and Martin Pischke

Friendticker has already created thousands of locations in its database before users started to add their own. These stem from local reviews website Qype which allows an import over a simple API. Qype is now seeing how to embed Friendticker into their own services – which could be a way of competing with Yelp which recently enabled Foursquare-like check-ins at their reviewed locations.

Interestingly, the usual German concern over privacy means Friendticker has strict privacy controls, something which will appeal to German users over Foursquare. While Foursquare has a new analytics dashboard, local businesses which use Friendticker get only anonymous user information which is automatically deleted after 24 hours. The lawyer costs for these privacy rules have already been €20,000 and so its understandable that Friendticker, with 15 employees, is looking for funding. After smaller investments from a handful of Business Angels, Friendticker is now working on raising a €3m or €4m series A round. But VC financing in Germany is too damn’ slow, says Florian, and so his plan B is to try and break even by year end.

The business model with loyalty rewards guarantees a revenue stream from day one and most of the development was financed by Friendticker’s mother company Servtag – already known for their mobile tagging and NFC solutions, started long before Foursquare. A first iteration of the Friendticker iPhone software was presented at CeBIT in March 2009, but people had to take photos of QR codes that were manually attached to specific locations to check in. That was too complicated and location-based social networking still hadn’t taken off. Therefore, Friendticker had to throw it all away in August and turned itself into a location-based loyalty game. Remind you of anyone?

  • jeff coe

    Good luck guys and nice angle with the loyalty programs for any size of businesses.

  • Jerome

    If they flourish wonderfully in Germany, I think, they’ll also spread their business in other neighboring countries and might dominate their service in Europe.

  • Christian Geissendoerfer

    All the best for the start in Germany! Looking forward to work together on the location based promotions / coupons.

  • stBKR

    Great read and fully agree with the business model approach of the loyalty programs.

  • Jan Michael Hess

    Hi Markus, nice article, maybe you find the time to clean some of the typos, does make sense as many people read it.

    Friendticker needs to offer cool, attractive rewards to be better than Foursquare. So I wonder how their sales team will be able to digg out cool underground locations not only for launch parties but for cool rewards, e.g. free party tickets, discounts in cool fashion shops etc..

    There is a chance in Germany so go for it.


  • Stefan Wolpers

    We had a chance to publicly test Friendticker last week prior to its official beta launch, when Florian provided two test ITEMs for the monthly social media marketing gathering Twittwoch in Berlin.

    We have a video of his presentation available:

    However, you will need to understand German to follow him.

  • Markus Goebel

    @Jan Michael Hess:

    “Free beer for frequent check ins” would be a great proposition for Berlin.

    Regarding to typos: “dig” has only on G. ;)

    We’re only humans.

    • Jerome

      One ‘supersize’ beer for my frequent check ins, please ;-)

  • krn

    not appearing

  • Ralf

    “Officially, the business of ruling Germany’s location wars starts today. ”
    We could not agree more, as will be next BUT much better !!

    Quality takes some more days. Let us surprise you ;-)

  • Michael Jung

    I actually like the character of the company, bootstrapping via its parent company.

    Embrace your constraints (not getting Series A round done in a decent time), instead of visitng and presenting to VCs, hire sale people who get you B2B deals done. Especially in the other two German speaking markets (Austria, Switzerland).

    In the end, it might benefit you all in the long-term. More control, more freedom in the exit strategy, value creation for users first, and so forth.

    Good luck being a fast-follower in capturing this unique market which hasn’t yet adopted smart phones like crazy.

  • Jake

    Lol… no mention of aka-aki here yet? They have been around for about 2 years already with their location based offering.

  • Jocelyn Johnson

    Good luck guys. I look forward to hearing more about company developments!

  • krn
  • agent engram

    This is very similar to what is doing here is America, except they seem to be focused on service specifically, and their mobile application rides on top of four square, they offer businesses real-time analytics and let the businesses give “offers”. Its free on android market. I think they have an iPhone version coming soon too.

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  • Rafal

    Maybe it’s not as big as Friendticker yet, but there is another “location related” start-up. Some kind of social place comparsion thing. It’s not a simple “Check-in” app but something bigger. Currently in early alpha (but open for new registers). I think it would change a lot on location related apps marketplace. AFAIR the iPhone version is on way. You can test it by yourself here:

  • kin
  • Wiktor is very nice and budding startup Rafal, but I’m still looking forward check-in functionality over there. I hope it will be there pretty soon. Currently I’m testing their bar char model of city description. And what can I say… interesting and impressive!

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