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Quick Pitch: Picksie is a location-based discovery platform for iPhone and iPad that shows you what’s going on around you now.
Genius Idea: Introducing places and activities before you search for them.
For a simple question, “What do you want to do?” quite often stumps a lot of people.
One reason, says Ajay Mohan, the CEO of Picksie parent company Ishi Systems, is that sites such as Yelp with their catalogs of entertainment establishments and event calendars have a gaping flaw when it comes to browsing.
“Basically you have to know what you want, which limits you,” he says.
Picksie, which launched in New York on June 15, aims to instead introduce you to relevant businesses near you before you search for them. It filters choices by preferences that you indicated at sign up, the time of day at which you are searching, and the weather.
It will not, for instance, suggest that you go to dinner at a restaurant that’s only open for breakfast and lunch. Nor will it, theoretically, send you to the botanical garden when thunderstorms are in the forecast.
To create reliable recommendations, Picksie incorporates databases such as Zagat’s and Fandango’s. It also includes concerts and festivals from online calendars. Users can “train” the app by giving its recommendations the thumbs up or thumbs down, and lets them leave short, Foursquare-tip-style reviews for other users.
Apps such as Zagat and Yelp already help map nearby venues, Fandango tells you what movies are playing near you and the Songkick and Eventful apps will tell you where to find concerts near you. Picksie’s main advantage is that it puts these location-based data points in one place. Eventually its makers hope to use this advantage to develop a hyperlocal-marketing platform.
At this point, however, the recommendations are dominated by restaurants, bars and movie theaters. These categories are already on most people’s go-to activity lists. The app would be a better discovery tool if it pinned down a wider variety of one-time events, like a specific drink deal at a bar or live music at a restaurant.
Improve that, and it could be an extremely handy tool on anyone’s phone.
Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark
The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.