[Don’t delete/move on just yet, there are a few interesting things related to start-ups/venture capital in here]
As you may know we at JLA have two offices; our world HQ in Toronto and an embassy in Montreal. We also have an office I maintain in Air Canada Airbus 320s. Unfortunately, the misguided souls in Montreal have only ever been exposed to a thing called a “Montreal Style” bagel. Naturally, this kid from the east coast (aka NY) is on a mission to help educate my partners on real bagels.
I’m going to be in Boston on Sunday doing some code review/practice on a possible investment and will either zip down to NY and pick up H&H bagels or grab some from Rosenfeld’s in Newton Center, MA. We have a 9:30a team meeting on Monday with the Montreal contingent as well as our partners from RBC. This will be a perfect time to education the group on what a proper bagel looks, feels, and tastes like. 6a out of NY (or Boston) and we’ve got hot Bagels at 9:30a in Toronto. I love my Air Pass.
The bagel war got me thinking about opportunities beyond just the obvious: Type “best bagels in Boston” or “best bagels in NYC”, into Google, read through reviews on Yelp, Chow, etc, go with the preponderance of the evidence and that’s it.
Imagine you land in Boston (or NY) and you want ‘the best bagel’. All you have is your Blackberry (or Apple thingamajig). You can use the browser and do what I suggested above, or scroll through various sites, etc, but on that little box, it’s a pain. There has to be an opportunity in here, right?
First, there is your own social network. You can do the ‘going to new york’ routine and let see if you get any responses. I’m betting that somebody reading this will tell me how good (or not) Roesenfeld Bagels are. Or I could, tonight, put this bagel thing as my status on Facebook, post a bagel question on LinkedIn (and probably get thrown off), etc, but it’s not the way the masses think. We are spontaneous. We start jonesing for that bagel and we want it now. Yes, you could hit Twitter with this as soon as you start to twitch with a bagel need.
Second, there are tons of review sites. As I mentioned, Yelp, Chow, Judys book, ZipLocal, etc. The problem is that I’m not going to scan em all during my Bagel fix requirement especially on that small screen. Sure, I’ll get the GPS to point me to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts but that’s about the limit.
There are scary sites that tell you more than you ever want to know. Absolute Bagels in NY? They make them the old fashion/correct way: Boil em. They are historic and lots of big shot experts on authentic bagels always point you to Absolute. Unfortunately, the city of New York and Absolute Bagels have a difference of opinion when it comes to inspections. Mice and Personal cleanliness seem to be of concern.
So, tons of information out there. I believe getting all of this data to you and I when we need it most, etc, remains elusive. The challenge is harnessing all this computing power we collectively have to take my request and crunch all of the data, real time, with an answer.
The problems here are big. Yelp and crew will barf if they are being screen scraped for somebody else’s application. Even if you could figure out a way past that, next up would be parsing the ratings, blending them, adding fun stuff like who had rats roaming the hallways, and then getting it to you. Plus add some extras like where you are, what time it is, etc. Maybe I’m not near place A which is the best but I’m around the corner from place B which also got great ratings, etc.
All of these issues also cries out for standards galore. A standard way for addresses to be put ‘out there’ with geo-codes. A “real people” system where you and I could sign up and universally be validated as a real person regardless of what site we want to interact. Plus our reviews are ours which could be used in other places. Microsoft tried this with a project called Hailstorm. A more apropos code name you couldn’t find after watching the hailstorm of criticism dumped on the company. There other open ID things happening but we aren’t there yet.
The best bagel thing is laughable as a specific problem to solve, I agree, but the larger infrastructure problems, the bigger ways to mash data and present it, certainly are problems worth solving.
So, anybody been to Rosenfeld’s recently?