Hollrr is a new online service that allows you to share recommendations about products and services you love. What I like about Hollrr is that it is very simple and does one thing well. It took me less than a minute to sign up and start recommending my favorite things to my friends. You can link Hollrr to your Facebook and Twitter accounts so that when you post a recommendation, it shows up instantly on Twitter and Facebook. Below is a screenshot which shows my first recommendation – the streaming service called Pandora – and the number of people who “hollrred” it.
I found out about Hollrr after meeting one of the founders, David Hegarty, at a Hackers & Founders party at Pier 38 in San Francisco. So I asked him more about Hollrr. Below is our Q&A.
Q&A with David Hegarty, co-founder of Hollrr
When did you launch Hollrr?
Our official launch was in February 2010, when we launched our full set of gaming features.
Who are the founders?
David Hegarty, Chief Hollrr
Benny Joseph, CTO
How would you describe Hollrr?
Hollrr is a startup pioneering a new generation of Social Commerce. By knowing what things our friends are recommending, we want to make it easier to discover great new products. We do this by turning a product discovery into a game, a bit like a ‘Foursquare for product discovery’. If your friends like your recommendations, you can win points, unlock badges, and become the Chief of your favorite category.
What inspired you to launch your product/service?
It makes my day to discover an awesome new product. Most of the time, it still comes as a recommendation from a friend. They’ll either tell me in person, or I’ll see them give a shout out on Twitter or Facebook. But then it gets lost or forgotten . . . and there is no good way to keep track of all the great products my friends are discovering. I wanted a better way to hear about these recommendations. That’s why we built Hollrr.
How are you making money (or how will you make money in the future)?
We’ll start with affiliate fees, but there are other more optimal ways we’ll be able to make money. It’s not hard to see the potential when product recommendations are involved.
Where do you see Hollrr within a year?
We want Hollrr to be the go-to site for discovering cool new products. Right now when you search for say a ‘camera’ on Google, you get two pages of SEO garbage. How much cooler would it be to search Hollrr and get the top ten cameras as recommended by your friends.
Are you self-funded or angel-funded?
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As Hollrr founder, David Hegarty, says above, the most valuable recommendations come from friends (and people we trust who we consider knowledgeable in the areas they are recommending). So it’s a matter of trust and the context in which that trust occurs (see Craig Newmark’s post on trust and reputation systems).
A simple example: if I am looking for a good sushi restaurant in San Francisco, I would ask a friend who loves fresh seafood; I would never ask a friend who eats meat most of the time and dislikes raw seafood. Another example: if I am searching for a cool boutique hotel in Barcelona, I would ask someone who loves to travel, stays in small personal hotels and shares the same tastes in decor and style. I would never ask a friend who has a family, stays in family chain hotels and rarely ventures outside the United States.
Indeed, my frustration with Google searches (which as Dave points out, is filled with SEO garbage) in the travel sector, my bad experiences with large review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp (accused of extortion by merchants), and the focus of most mainstream media on large, mass-market chain hotels and restaurants (many of which just happen to be advertisers), led me to start a travel site about boutique hotels, restaurants and cafes. The site is called Mapplr. I started it to address the recommendation problem: where do my friends and people like me find cool places to stay and eat? I post my recommendations and reviews on Mapplr, plus the recommendations of people I know personally, whose tastes I trust. It’s easy to see what I like when you go to Mapplr: atmospheric, well-designed small hotels (but not too expensive), restaurants that don’t necessarily have Michelin stars but serve good food (and they are usually owned by the chef), quirky cafes where the baristas make espresso the way it’s made in Italy.
When people read Mapplr, they know that what I am recommending is what I like or what people I trust really like. It’s a small subset of people who enjoy small stylish hotels, good food, real coffee, and unique experiences. None of my recommendations is affected by advertising.
In fact, I may use Hollrr for my next set of reviews on Mapplr (and Shopplr, the sister site devoted to fashion, beauty and style).