Localmind Aspires to Answer Questions Around the Globe

3/13/12Follow @xconomy

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the possibilities out there now that so many people had GPS in their smart phones.

“I realized there’s so much more people want to know,” he says. “All the pieces were in place for something like LocalMind.”

And then Rachitsky-who has lectured on serendipity in a TEDx talk–went to visit a friend in Montreal at Bitnorth, a meeting that he describes as “TED meets Ignite meets Foocamp.” There he met some guys in the small now-defunct Canadian incubator YearOne Labs, pitched his idea, and moved to Canada. “I thought, ‘What’s the worst that can happen,’” he says. “‘I’ll live in Montreal for a year, then get another job.’”

Instead, in January of 2011 he found himself with a business plan and $50,000 from YearOne. By July, the company had raised $600,000 in angel funding in a round led by Granite Ventures, with iNovia Capital and Real Ventures participating, and Rachitsky moved to San Francisco.

For now, Localmind is focusing on building market share, growth and retention, and answering the questions people need help with. “There’s a new app every day,” he says. “If you don’t solve a problem that people have often, they forget about it. That’s our mission-to try to solve as many problems as possible for people so they come back.”

The company is still exploring possible revenue streams, including targeted ads—even as direct as “Come to this bar and we’ll give you a free drink right now”—and allowing bars or restaurants to bid to be able to answer a given question. For example, he says, who better than Starbucks could tell you if the pumpkin spiced lattes are available yet? And if they’re not, they could lure customers in with half a standard latte instead.

But for now, it’s all about building up community and regular users.

“One important thing we learned early on is that people like to help each other with no expectation of monetary compensation,” Rachitsky says. “That was exciting. Kind of reaffirms our faith in humanity.”

Here’s a 1-minute video on Localmind’s 2.0 release.

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