|By||http://e27.cohttp://e27.sg/2010/02/03/bernard-leong-saumil-nanavati-launch-chlkboard-location-based-mobile-promotions-platform/||| Feb 3, 2010 | News|
Editor’s Note: Bernard Leong will be sharing his views on a panel on mobile web at the upcoming echelon 2010 web technology and startup conference.
There’s no doubt today that mobile applications, specifically location based services, are the next big thing to watch out for. I was at a recent retreat with media executives where I talked about the concept of Socially Relevant Location (SRL) based applications. The hypothesis here is that all 3 elements (social, relevance and location) need to be present in a location based mobile application, in order for it to be useful and relevant to users. I won’t go in to the details of this, but I think we have among ourselves an application that could be putting this hypothesis into action. Meet Chlkboard, a location based mobile promotions platform founded by Bernard Leong and Saumil Nanavati.
Concept Behind Chlkboard
The fundamental concept here is simple. Let’s assume that every mom-and-pop retailer on the street (food, lifestyle, services etc.) had their coupons and discounts plugged into a web application. If I was somewhere looking for a good deal, I would be able to whip out my phone, plug my location and figure out the best deals around. The video below comically illustrates this concept:
How is This Different From Foyage, BuUuk and the Rest of the Location Based Applications?
Here’s the clear difference between Chlkboard and the rest. While most local based applications focus on providing content (be it user generated or not) and then on attracting an audience of users, Chlkboard focused on purely getting the advertisers on board their platform and then plugging this into existing location based services which already have the sizable user base and content. This is not rocket science. It’s essentially a location based affiliate network (think AdMob, but more focused on the long tail brick and mortar advertisers). Up till now, they have secured about 20 advertisers including Arena in Clarke Quay, Otaku House and Standing Sushi. They have also built a sales team to grow that pool of advertisers before plugging their technology into existing apps. While the model is free for the advertisers now, they want to provide value and analytics to them first, before charging the monthly subscriptions. As of now, Chlkboard is generating 11k impressions since the 2 weeks that they launched. The team has has strategically decided not to do an iPhone app but instead make a web app that looks exactly like an iPhone app. This effectively bypasses the App Store’s approval system, very similar to what Google did with Google Voice
It is too early to say if this will work but it is impressive that they have a working application and some ready to go advertisers in such a short span. The key here is not in the technology, but in scaling the sales team and getting advertisers on board. Chlkboard is clearly going against a heavyweight in this space a.k.a Google and as most of us already know, Google has been ramping up their coverage and indexing of local businesses for a while now. With Google working closely with the government agencies like LTA, they have the required local location data and along with its acquisition of AdMob, they are set to move into the location based services sector soon. Hence, speed is of the essence for Chlkboard, so it’s a make or break for them in the next 6 months.