Plenty of startups still believe there’s room in the social recommendations space, and now, another new contender heads into battle. Chicago-based Mouthee is today officially debuting its website and iOS application, which allow users to quickly share reviews of local restaurants and hotels, as well as movies, music and books.
Mouthee co-founder David Pritzker says he first had the idea for the service back in October 2010. “I had been talking with my co-founder Chad Silver – he and I were always exchanging recommendations of things between each other. We were talking about how we had gotten frustrated with the existing review platforms that were available,” he says. “We had both gotten into situations where we had relied on anonymous reviews that weren’t exactly all that they were cracked up to be.”
The other challenge is that there’s not a good way to share word-of-mouth recommendations between friends very efficiently, he says. Eventually, these frustrations led to the creation of Mouthee. “We’re really trying to combine the best aspects of review sites, on the one hand, with social networks, on the other,” Pritzker explains.
The iOS application has actually been available for a few months, but it was a soft launch. The company only told friends about it, and to date, there are just “several hundred” users on the service. However, the website version of Mouthee is only now going live.
Using the app (or website) is very simple. There’s a News Feed of recommendations, which you can filter by “nearby” or by your friends’ recommendations on the service. When you find something you like, you can also take actions to buy it via the app. For example, you can make reservations through OpenTable, buy a song through Amazon or iTunes, or purchase movie tickets via Fandango. These affiliate sales provide Mouthee’s initial revenue stream as well.
To leave a review, you tap the “Rec It” button fill out a few details, and tap on a cute icon for the rating (“All about it,” “Feelin’ It,” “Eh,” or “Not So Much.”) And you can search reviews in the “Get Recs” section, or use “Direct Ask” to ping a friend about what they would suggest. Unfortunately, these requests only flow through Mouthee for now, but Pritzker says that they’ll add support for SMS and emails “Asks” in the future.
It’s a handy, well-built app, but the more important question here is, how does Mouthee plan to compete in this crowded space? We’ve seen a number of social recommendation apps come (Tout’d, Livestar, Stamped, Tipflare) and go (remember Oink?) in recent months – what will Mouthee do to differentiate? For starters, says Pritzker, some like Stamped only focus on positive reviews, which he finds problematic. “They have a really cool approach…but the problem I see with that is that you’re dealing with an inherently skewed data set,” he says.
And the others? “Our key focus is really to make this as intuitive and as fun as possible,” says Pritzker. In other words, they hope you’ll use Mouthee because you like to – it’s that simple.
Because it’s based in Chicago, many of Mouthee’s local reviews are for places in that city, but Washington D.C. and NYC also make a showing. There are around 8,000 total reviews on the service today. You can download the app in iTunes here, or visit Mouthee on the web.