Thursday, June 9, 2011

Really excited to announce that we will be changing our name to better suit how we are evolving our mission to help local ecosystems thrive. If you have been watching what we have been doing you will see that we have been shifting our focus to hyper-local, and helping people engage with their communities in new ways using mobile location based technology.

We are building a platform to empower local economies. Our mission is to support independent merchants, expert bloggers, and provide access to local events and information using location based technology.

Over the next few weeks we will be bringing down the site as you know it and transform the brand to and technology over to We are proud of what we have created with and are excited that we are going to be starting a new chapter with a great mission and purpose to help local communities thrive.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

RateCred v0.8.40 Released

New and improved version with many improvements, D2 friendly landscape mode, and much much better location behaviors. Just re-released on android market.

You will need to delete old one, we are realigning our company to be 100% ratecred so we changed the package structure.

Please go onto android market and rate our application!

search "ratecred" on android market

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Where 2.0 Startup Showcase

If you are going to Where 2.0 make sure to visit us at the Where 2.0 Startup Showcase. The Startup Showcase will be held on Wednesday, April 20 from 5:30p - 6:30p PT inside Expo Hall A, of the Santa Clara Convention Center. We will be giving our new pitch on how we are working with local blogger, merchants who want to be showcased locally, and patrons who are locally minded to make it easy to shop local using your mobile phone.

Friday, April 8, 2011

RateCred Nominated as Oakland's "Innovative Newbie"

YAY! was nominated for an Oakland Indie Award as Oakland's Innovative Newbie. The Oakland Indies are a community-oriented award for Oakland independent businesses and artists celebrating the Oakland's independent businesses and artists who give back to the community.

Super excited to help independently owned Oakland businesses, journalists who love writing about our city and the patrons who care about making Oakland thrive find each other.

Make sure to go to the Oakland Indie Awards and support locally owned Oakland businesses and artists!

Dear -

Congratulations! You were nominated for an Oakland Indie Award—a community-oriented award for Oakland independent businesses and artists. You were nominated for the Innovative Newbie award.

See category descriptions here.

The Indie Awards are a program of OnePacificCoast Foundation and Bank and East Bay Express. We are hosting our 5th annual awards party on Friday, May 13, 2011 the Kaiser Center at 300 Lakeside Drive, Oakland. This event will celebrate the Oakland's independent businesses and artists who give back to the community and are socially or environmentally responsible.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Oaklandish Software Developer

Ever wanted to make a difference in your community and also be a part of a start-up that is using cutting edge technologies like SpringMVC 3.0 Android SDK, Rules Based AI, GeoLocation, and Social integrations using restful web services? RateCred is a Oakland based start-up that is using cutting edge approaches to help local Oakland businesses thrive. For the last year has been experimenting with location based gaming, and is now working with local businesses and blogs to help local experts reach out to Oakland residents using mobile applications. We have some big plans that are starting right here with the community owned, small businesses you love to go to. Don't like chains? Here is your chance to give our Oakland local businesses a fighting chance with our advanced technologies.

We are looking for people who know how to build great applications that people will love, and who also want to be a part of something meaningful. This is not charity work, and there will be some vested option and payment component with a hope that we can transition contributors into founders.

  • Who we are looking for:
  • Will do ANY job. Doing over planning.
  • Won't give up.
  • Doesn't need to be managed.
  • Intelligence, Drive, Integrity
  • Vests

Got any of these skills? Drop us a line...

  • Spring3/Java Web Applications
  • HTML5/JQuery
  • Photoshop and Design
  • Android/ObjectiveC

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rewarding Expertise In The Local Referral Value Chain

If you follow these very loose assumptions, they make this story fun. Ever since the online directories such as Yelp, Insider Pages, and City Search came onto the scene it has been clear that the $11 Billion/Year US Market for local referral is up for grabs by just about everybody BUT yellow pages. With 29.6 Million small businesses in the US, that means that every business has about $4000 that they are going to stop using on yellow pages and start using on something else.
Q: Who will they give it to?
A: People who bring them "Patrons".
The Local Referral Value Chain
There is an ecosystem in which people find out about places they might like, end up going to that place, and then go back to that place often. I call this ecosystem "The Local Referral Value Chain". Customers go to places, most likely because of a referral from a trusted source like a friend or some other authority. In this value chain, businesses try to make themselves available to referrers that are local and trusted because they are more likely to grow their business by converting those one time customers into regular repeat business that love what they do. I call the trusted advisers that people respect and listen to "Experts". I call the holy grail repeat customer, that every business would love to have, "Patrons".

Before the series of tubes we call the internets existed these trusted authorities were food critics in the local newspaper, and they could be relatively successful in targeting locally because everybody read the local newspaper. If a business impressed the local food critic, and got a good review, people would respond! Most people trusted the expertise and objectivity of the food critic as a journalist, and the businesses benefited by the fact that there was a local source for informing customers about new places. Right now picture in your mind Mad Men drinking 3 martini lunches.

Today we have a little different situation, and newspapers are on the decline. In the ever expanding void that has emerged by these media properties, online foodie blogs, e-columnists and internet journalists have seen large growth in readership. Representation of this important role of informing the public about new places in local markets is becoming essential. People love the fun and casual approach many of these writers take, and they have become trusted by the local community.
Q: So where are the foodie blogs, e-columnists and internet journalists represented in the value chain?

A: They are being ignored.
SEO Driven Referral Is The New Yellow Pages
In the olden days of yore, the other way for a customer to find a local business was to walk over to the big yellow book and flip through the pages, and for a very long time every business knew that they must be in the yellow pages so that new customers that may not have an expert referral could still find their business. This essentially was advertisement.

In 1996 Kris Hagerman created the first internet based directory and called it Big Book, which is where I worked as part of the forward thinking BigBook 3D project, GTE Yellow Pages later acquired the company. What few people in the Yellow Pages business understood was that this was the beginning of the end for their ilk because search engines made the entire internet a directory. Directories had to offer more than just a indexed set of advertisements, people needed to add value with their opinions. Yelp became a phenomenon, it was based on creating a more social approach to an online directory, and adding local aspects via geocoding and mapping. Crowd sourced directories with individual sentiment was clearly an improvement on Yellow Pages, but it does little more than extend the concept of a directory with SEO and a crowd sourced sentiment referral system.

Q: What is the difference between the Yellow Pages and Yelp?

A: Google.
SEO driven referrals are great for the internet, just do a Google search and pretty quickly I can find the place I am looking for, get some basic idea about what the business does and how to get there. It is a bigger better Yellow Pages! The problem arises when I try to actually understand the business and determine if its a place I would like to become a "Patron". The volume of reviews creates a signal to noise challenge when trying to figure out the truth. The quality of the review is also commonly questionable, yes real people have shared their opinions but are they people I trust?

Verdict: Reach is broad, but trust is low.

Just Here For The Deals
Deals are great. Who doesn't like getting something at a great price? When deals came onto the internet referral playground they offered businesses an easy way to engage new customers quickly, and with the viral aspects of the web, deals could spread like wild fire. Got an email address? You are ready to receive great deals every day! Add on top on that the extreme horizontal marketing of social deals and a business that had slow Thursdays now has to hire another server to support the new traffic. Wow!

Q. What happens when the deal is over?

A. Nothing.
Getting a deal is great, but once the deal is over what really makes you want to come back? If you only came for the deal in the first place chances are that you did not come for some other reason, like because you love the business or what they do. There is no sense of trust or authority in the deal referrals, so the customer does not really care about more than how much they saved. Deals are great to get people into the business but they do little or nothing to build long term customers that will become "Patrons".

Verdict: Great at engaging customers, poor at converting them into "Patrons". Zero Trust.

Badges, Location and Checking In
At SXSW 2009 Foursquare made a big splash by providing a service that let people check in to the places they go to unlock badges, much like Boy Scout might earn for being a good fire maker, or selling enough cookies. It was fun to compete against your friends to be the "Mayor" of the joint you frequented to play darts and drink beer, and my first beer was free! Neato.

Location based systems (LBS) are an enormous improvement in the value chain proposition. First of all they are automatically locally targeted because their systems rely on the emergent support of GPS on mobile devices that started in 2009. Mobile devices were growing in their ability to provide interactive real time "in the field" connections between businesses and customers, even if that connection is a check in or a "like". With LBS systems I can see where my friends go, so its almost an automatic referral, and game mechanics make exploring the world a game. There are some distinct advantages to the dynamics that LBS systems provide in the The Local Referral Value Chain.
Q. How do the social aspects of LBS build upon expertise?

A. Very Poorly.
Social does not equal expertise. While we trust our friends more than we trust 432 strangers, we don't trust them as much as a person who's primary mission is discovering new places and objectively explaining them to people for their common benefit. Experts provide a valuable service to the community that social and local just cant fulfill alone.

Verdict: Better targeting, improved engagement towards patronage, but trust is still not at expertise levels.

Notice A Pattern?
Every single one of the models I have mentioned in the Local Referral Value Chain do have one thing in common though. They want to replace the position of the expert as the primary referrer in local markets with their own local solution. This is an ambitious goal, and usually these companies have to hire large sales teams in those local markets to "push" their solution as a potential referrer to the thousands of local businesses in each market. Groupon has roughly 2400 employees, Yelp has roughly 3200, with the lion's share based in sales. Local is tough! If these companies want to penetrate they have a real problem of sustainability and sales management.
Q. Is there a way to reach local markets without a giant sales force?

A. Yes. Engage the experts in each market and make them a integral part of the Local Referral Value Chain.
Be The Glue
What if instead of cutting the local experts out of the chain, someone recognized their crucial role? What if said "someone" provided them with a simple platform to integrate referrals directly into their properties while also allowing them the ability to maintain journalistic integrity? Add the local reach of LBS systems with the old school power of trusted sources and you have the best parts of the value chain all in one place! Instead of trying to become the referrer, become a platform that enables the local referrer to do what they do best, tell people about great places in their area.

So it took us little time to get here, but with all good stories its in the telling right? Without getting into the details of exactly what RateCred is building in this very public forum, we are willing to trumpet from the highest mountain top that experts are the new frontier in local. We are building the glue to makes it easy for experts to get a piece of the value chain without sacrificing trust, making it fun for patrons to find out about that expertise, and finally leveraging that expertise locally and then giving businesses a way to reach those patrons and build reputation with loyalty and rewards.

Its a big goal, and we are starting small by working mostly in the Bay Area first, but in the game of The Local Referral Value Chain we think its the winning BBQ sauce. If you are interested in knowing more about what we are building just contact us!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gowalla and Foursquare Checkins

Tired of using multiple apps to checkin? Want to rate a place with RateCred but find that you also open up another application to checkin so you can protect your mayoral status? Now you only need one application to rate and checkin to all your favorite location services all at once.

We have worked very hard with, a leading provider of checkin aggregation services, to allow you use RateCred to checkin to Foursquare and Gowalla (more coming soon) every time you share your ratings of the places you go with your friends.

How To Enable Aggregated Checkins
Its easy to enable checkins for your RateCred account.

1. Log into with your twitter account.
2. Go to your user home page. At the lower left side below your friends is a section called "Settings"

3. Select the first checkin service you would like to use, we will choose "foursquare" for this example. You will then be sent to the service's authorization page, this lets you tell the checkin service that RateCred is allowed to checkin on your behalf. Choose "Allow".

4. Once you authorize RateCred you will be directed back to our application.

That's it! You are now enabled to automatically check in to whatever venue you go, every time you rate!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

RateCred Android Hour Interview

Dont Hate The Geek from The Android Hour Interviews RateCred CEO Clay Graham about the social game that lets you share your experiences with friends using twitter to earn rewards and offers. It was so much fun spending time with this community of Android enthusiasts!

This video was originally 18m and has been edited for YouTube.

Monday, January 17, 2011

RateCred For Publishers

As a blogger you spend time growing your readership and being a journalist. We recognize the effort that takes and want to have a relationship that rewards you for working with us. Our publisher tools make it easy to allow your readers to rate any place you post about, and help you build a community by bringing your readers together around your blog using social media. Our publisher plugin for Blogger and WordPress makes it easy to grow readership and earn affiliate revenue with your paypal account.

If you are a web site developer creating a web site why not make it easy to bundle check-in and rewards with your next venue web site development project? By bundling our web plugin with our business services you have a simple, mobile enabled, check-in and rewards system to add value to your next web site project. We pay referral fees for every business services signup.

By including a javascript plugin that is keyed to the place you want to talk about or develop a web site for we can identify the source of the rating. All you do is insert the script tags in the blog post or somewhere in your design and you are good to go! To get started now just sign up as an affiliate, or if you have questions email us.

Here's an example:

It's simple.
  • Sign Up - Enter our online form so we know who you are.
  • Embed The Plugin - Just place the script tags with our RateCred place id on your site.
  • Earn Affiliate Revenues - Every month we pay for every rating your users make about the places you publish via your paypal account. ($10 minimum)

Just Insert this code...

<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
<script type="text/javascript">RATECRED.Widget(3112,'b5929af4');</script>

January & February Events!

RateCred Events

RateCred is the social game that lets you rate any place using Android & iPhone and then share with your friends using Twitter to earn cred and offers. RateCred helps get the word out for your business using social media and makes rating a game with badges, a rewards program, and social rating events. We are now signing up businesses for January and February events. We offer a Prix Fixe menu and will work with you to create a great event that brings 10-20 people into your venue, who then in turn use social media to talk about the event and your business. Its a win-win, you build brand awareness with a rabidly loyal group of customers who love locally owned businesses, and we get an opportunity to show you how great our service is for growing loyalty with your customers.

Interested in learning more about RateCred?

Goto our About Page

All event sponsors receive a free trial of RateCred!

Ever wanted a rewards program for your business that you did not have to manage or maintain? Want a simple way to instantly know what your customers are thinking about your business? RateCred business services provide an easy to use system to give rewards to your customers and build long term relationships and loyalty. Your customers redeem your offers right on their mobile phone. RateCred makes rating your business a social game and builds awareness and reputation for your business on twitter.

Now signing up January & February events!

We are now signing up businesses for events in January and February, just pick a night that works for you, and a great deal to offer our users and we will do the rest! Its easy to sign up and we will work with you to make sure its a great deal and helps your business.

Register For An Event in January or February

Monday, January 3, 2011

RateCred HTML5 for iPhone Early Release

Really excited to be working with sencha, and would love some feedback from the community on ways to improve the Sencha Touch version of our application.

RateCred is the social game that lets you rate any place and then share with your friends using Twitter to earn cred and offers. We recognize that your opinion is valuable, so why shouldnt you recieve recognition for your expertise? That's why leaders in the game get special awards and recognition for being a thought leader, what we call "cred". RateCred makes it easy to share opinions about your likes and dislikes for any place you go. If you have a Twitter account you already are signed up for RateCred.

Our application is currently available for free on android market, the Sencha Touch effort is intended to at least provide iPhone support and at best to converge our mobile client platform.

Any advice, critique, or comments are greatly appreciated.