If I Ran It: Assisted Serendipity

Aug 19, 2010

Originally posted on FrankDenbow.com and


solves the problem of finding a venue where the ratio of guys/girls is
in your favor. By looking at recent check-in data, you can tell when the
ratio “tips” and Assisted Serendipity will email or text you with the
news, and with pictures of the recently checked in people. This is an
idea that just makes sense when you hear the pitch, and is one of the
better ideas I have heard that is built on top of the Foursquare API.
There are a few problems though that I would like to think about that
could change this from being a funny app into something that is useful
and has the potential for revenue.

​1) Data - There simply is not enough data on Foursquare now to make the
service useful (knowing that 2 Girls and 1 Guy are at a venue is clearly
not indicative of the actual ratio). You need enough people checking in
(or providing the information about the ratio themselves) to make it
useful. Facebook’s announcement of their Places API will hopefully solve
some of these problems (anyone know how to get an invite to the beta for
search/write?). The key element of their API is the ability to tag
friends, a smart way of letting the top 10% of power users aid in
providing the data that is needed for applications like these to reach
their potential. You can also have Assisted Serendipity users provide
the data themselves about the venue.

​2) Process & Timing - Alerts at 6AM that the ratio has tipped is
probably too late for anyone to actually use. It also isn’t the right
process for this kind of thing. A pull model for the information is more
effective than push in this scenario, as the decision to go out is made
before deciding on the venue. Also, the kind of person who would make a
decision about where to go based on the ratio would be one who is likely
to try a new venue. So creating a list of alerts to the places they
already know about isn’t helpful. Instead I would rather open up an app
when I am deciding where to go out and see which places are “trending”
right now towards ratios that are good for me. If this was location
based (meaning specific to your GPS location), even better, but
initially they can just export a list of venues by city. If there is not
enough current data to make a valuable suggestion, use historical data
(if they let you) and create an aggregate score from all the previous

​3) Added Value - There can be more value added than just knowing the
ratio at the venue. Information about the club/bar is also important
(try showing up to 1Oak without girls and see if you get in). Dress
code, drink specials, music type, best nights to go on, etc are all part
of the decision making process, and a great opportunity as there are no
good curated guides to clubs on the web right now (lightbulb!).

​4) Partnerships and Revenue - If Assisted Serendipity can get the
users, there are many ways to monetize. A few off the top are:

​A) Promoted Venues/Events - The main value proposition now is your
ability to help in the decision making process of club going. Venues
would love to be able to pay to get into the conversation to get some of
those users going to their venues. Giving them tools to promote events
and specials would be a simple way of getting revenue.

​B) Selling Drinks - A perfect partnership would be with Ben Fisher’s
Urban Pregame which
allows you to use the collective buying power of you and your friends to
buy drinks at a bar before you get there. Decide where you want to go +
buy drinks now that you decided + ??? = Profitz

​C) Additional Club Services - Being an affiliate for all the
complimentary services that go along with going to a bar or club
(taxi/limo service, bottle/table service, entry tickets etc).

All of this ties in a bit with a project I am working on called
PlayerText. Look forward to seeing how Assisted Serendipity evolves. Add
more ideas in the comments.

Frank Denbow

Founder. Dancer. Entrepreneur.

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