We wanted to dedicate our first blog post to highlighting…
Today, we’re happy to launch TownFave, a web app that lets people discuss the best places in town…using collaborative lists. TownFave uses the wisdom of the crowd to quickly and easily answer the question: what’s the best place in town for anything?
People Love The Best
Today, we have a culture where people crave the best experiences. Think of your personal conversations…it’s fun to discuss and debate what’s the best coffee in town, or what’s the best bowl of ramen in town…the examples are innumerable. These “best of” discussions come up often in everyday life. People love these discussions because it normally results in a list of places they’d want to try.
TownFave wants to be THE platform that lets people have these “best of” discussions in a simple, fun, and quick way. To effectively understand what’s “best”, it’s necessary to compare multiple places. At TownFave, people create open votable lists (like Reddit) to quickly compare what’s best from a list of candidates. Our lists allow people to compare and rank multiple places…unlike the current pervasive signal of ratings and reviews that only shed light on a singular location. Try looking for “best waffles” in your favorite ratings and review app. It’s a bit tricky right? Is a location 4 stars because it’s a great breakfast place, but the waffles are just mediocre? Is it mainly great for chicken and waffles, but it came up high on the search because ‘waffles’ is in the business name? On average, we found there’s a lot of deciphering, frustration, and inefficiency on existing local search apps to accomplish what should be a simple and fun task.
Something a little less obvious to the casual TownFave user is one of TownFave’s core tenets: they want to build a system where everyone wins. Like other local search apps, there are typically 3 parties involved…the consumer, the business owner, and the app. With ratings and reviews apps like Yelp, there’s often an antagonistic relationship between the consumer and business owner. “These platforms are becoming things that business owners despise. Their most vocal customers are often the disgruntled ones who leave bad reviews,” says Pat Cheung, founder of TownFave. “It’s like a love hate relationship. Businesses need these platforms…but would rather they not exist altogether. These platforms are now starting to be seen as a festering ground for negativity and criticism. This is why it feels like extortion when the platform starts calling local retailers to ask for business.”
Because of this, one of TownFave’s main goals is to be a platform where everyone wins. The core signal on TownFave is to focus on excellence. Businesses get on TownFave by being amazing, not by being bad. On TownFave, everyone has a chance to be excellent at something, and it hopes to be a platform that helps expose places for what they’re great at…not what they’re bad at. TownFave hopes to connect consumers and businesses and to be seen as a platform encouraging positivity.
Story Behind the Idea
The founder of TownFave, Pat Cheung, envisioned this app based on a simple frustration on his recent trip to Chicago. The windy city is known for its famous deep dish pizza, and he wanted to find what was considered the best deep dish pizza in Chicago…and likely try several on top of the list. Turning to Yelp and Foursquare, he was shocked how long it took to come up with some candidates. He eventually compared several lists taken from several food critic blogs and narrowed down the choices by identifying recurring places that consistently showed up across multiple lists.
The result? He finally chose a place that was actually more known for their pasta, and the pizza was only so-so. When he asked the Chicago locals who joined him for dinner, they replied that if he polled 100 locals, two or three places would likely bubble up in the ranking…and none of them was the place he chose that night.
“That Chicago trip was the breaking point for me”, said Pat Cheung, the founder of TownFave. “In this day and age, it just shouldn’t be that hard to accomplish such a seemingly simple task. The statement ‘what if I can ask 100 locals what’s the best deep dish pizzeria in town’ should be easily doable”.
Pat Cheung has always had a passion for travel, having been a writer for a travel show in Hong Kong and for a show on the Travel Channel. Also, having been a UX design director for YP.com, he brings both his passion for great user experience and local search to the new TownFave platform. “TownFave is really a culmination of two things I’m really passionate about…local recommendations and enjoyable user experiences”, says Pat Cheung. “There’s two common local search behaviors in the world. One question is: Is this place any good? Yelp tells me if it’s good or not, and Foursquare/Swarm adds color by telling me what my friends think. The other question is: What’s the best place in town for (blank). TownFave wants to answer that question.”