Goby, with New iPhone App, Shifts Focus from Activity Search to Mobile Recommendations

5/10/11Follow @gthuang

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deep Web mining gets tricky if the information you’re looking for is too broad in scope (see Twine.com, which was absorbed by Seattle-based Evri last year). “We’re trying to solve a very specific problem,” Watkins says—namely, finding and recommending relevant local events and activities.

Goby has raised $7.5 million to date from investors including Kepha Partners and Flybridge Capital Partners. The company will be looking to raise more money later this year, Watkins says. In terms of revenue streams, it sounds like Goby is pursuing a couple of advertising models—one based on brand advertising and deals (akin to display ads), and another based on local performance-based pay-per-click ads (syndicated through sites like Citysearch).

Lastly, I asked Watkins—a veteran of New England tech icons Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC) and Endeca—for the top lessons he learned at his previous companies, and how he’s applying them to Goby.

“Hire the best people you can,” he says. “We’re excruciatingly rigorous about hiring good people. If you have great people, everything is easy. If you don’t have great people, everything is hard.” Also, he adds, “don’t get hung up on what the competition is doing.”

That last bit seems especially important, given how crowded the world of mobile apps has become in local search, deals, and recommendations. We’ll be watching to see how Goby continues to differentiate itself from the pack.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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