It has been a long time coming, but on 6th March, Findery, the mapping app with a difference, and Brainchild of Caterina Fake, co-founder of photo sharing website Flickr, launched worldwide on IOS.
Fake succeeded in raising $9.5 million in funding for her latest start-up, hardly surprising when we consider that her first post Flickr venture, Hunch, the collective intelligence decision making app, which tries to understand a user’s tastes and adapt the information it provides accordingly, was sold to EBay for $80 million USD back in 2009.
Hunch was created with just 11 staff, all MIT graduates, and Findery has just 12 staff, which may explain the 2 year incubation period. Finally, the beta is complete and Findery has hit the Apple App stores, but Fake insists there was good reason for the wait, and that the app was always intended to run on the web before it was released for smartphone.
Fake explains: ““We didn’t want to have the ‘empty restaurant’ syndrome when people first use it, where people show up on a big launch day and are disappointed by a lack of other users or other content. The world is a really big place, and this is a really hard problem to solve.”
“This cold start problem is real on apps especially. When you start with an app, you have to search for it, download it and keep it on your phone. So your tendency is to be much more unlikely to return if you have a bad initial experience. And on the Web, it’s a lot more forgiving medium.”
Originally named Pinwheel, the Findery app allows you tag photos, and notes, to any location around the world, and to see notes and information that have been uploaded by other users. You arrive in a new country or city and you want to know a little about the local history, or where the best spots are in the park you have come across unawares. There’s a good chance someone before you has had the same experience, done some digging, and put notes, photos, or recommendations on Findery. You can take advantage of these, embellish them, add a personal touch, and make your notes private or public as you wish.
It’s clear that, with an app such as this, content is king; users will not want to be adding notes to a blank canvas, or feel like guinea pigs, so it was vital that Fake and her team created enough content to set users on the right path, before removing the stabilisers. The team has established power users in major cities such as Tokyo, Dubai, and Sydney, and a range of features such as NoteMaps, which operate similarly to Twitter’s hashtags, allowing users to search for specific kinds of content, from local history, to food and drink, to users most memorable experiences.
Since Fake is unsure herself what direction the app may take, she is cagey when it comes to revenue streams, content for now to watch “and see what businesses do”, pointing out that “”There’s this social aspect of mobile that has not been established or settled, the winner hasn’t taken all. It’s a very competitive field.”
What Caterina Fake represents to the industry is a stamp of quality, with a proven track record of creating intuitive, beautifully designed apps, with a community feel, that can develop in unique and unexpected ways. With the launch of Findery, she may be about to hit the jackpot once again.