Spindle, The Hyper-Local Brainchild Of An Ex Microsoft Employee, Turns The Heat Up On Yelp And Foursquare

Spindle is an app that's trying to make your life easier. It provides real-time updates from businesses in your immediate surroundings, and today it is launching in its third city, New York.

We spoke with Spindle's founder and CEO, Pat Kinsel, about what he's building, and why he thinks it's better than Foursquare or Yelp. Kinsel is a former Microsoft employee.

Before we dive into the interview, here's a little bit more about Spindle and the opportunity it's after:

  • Spindle already exists in Boston and San Francisco. Before the NYC launch, it identified more than 91,000 social networking accounts owned by over 70,000 businesses and organizations throughout the five boroughs. It will tap into them all to bring you instant updates on everything from daily deals, to notifications about oven-fresh cupcakes at your local bakery.
  • Spindle stands out from Foursquare, Yelp and Highlight because it's the only service to tap into an always-fresh stream of updates to help you discover what's going on. So whenever there is a offer in your area, you can find it immediately.
  • The app is inherently social. You can send out a blast on Facebook and/or Twitter to your friends about any of the local updates.

Overall, we like what Kinsel has built and think it has promise. Here's what he had to say.

Spindle is available for iPhone in the App Store for free.

The following is a lightly edited conversation we had with Kinsel about Spindle and it's NYC launch.

Business Insider: How does Spindle differentiate itself from apps like Foursquare, Yelp and Highlight? Why should people abandon these apps for Spindle?

Pat Kinsel: Spindle really takes inspiration from its name. We take data from many different sources and put it through our structured system.

With Foursquare, it uses your friends activity to suggest places. It has no idea what's happening at a place at a particular moment. Spindle finds a really timely and relevant tweet that announces whats going on, like tickets still available, and we use much better content sourcing and valuable updates.

BI: Why do you think there is a need for an app like this?

PK: In NYC there are hundreds of thousands of businesses trying to reach customers through Twitter and Facebook. Those two social networks are great for customer retention, but they aren't great for customer adoption. On the consumer side, people are constantly looking for things going on around them, we think Spindle can provide value for both the business and customer.

BI: What is your goal for Spindle? Where do you see it in 6 months - 1 year?

PK: On the product side we really hope that people will check Spindle as often as they check Twitter and Facebook, we hope they will pull it out to check multiple times a day. We plan on continually improving Spindle and getting better with ranking, relevance, and getting into more cities. We're really focused on expanding our footprint.

BI: How are you planning to get users to return? Because I've seen a lot of great apps that only get used a few times, then don't get used that much again, how will you keep up retention?

PK: Our first goal is with the core product concept itself. The Number one piece of feedback we get is they like how our app updates throughout the course of the day. A lot of other apps are static and its the same content, we try to follow you throughout your day and suggest a coffee shop that is having a deal or a bar having a band that night.

We do the work for you and always try to provide value even if you aren't doing something in that instance we hope that the information is useful.

BI: What did you learn at Microsoft that contributed to this app?

PK: When I worked at Microsoft I was on a team within research and we were charged with coming up with new concepts and validating and testing them. After that we either shipped the products or tried to inform other product groups about what we learned. 

At Microsoft learned a lot about taking the long approach to trying to solve a problem in depth. I had great opportunities to work with Facebook at a time when Microsoft was reimagining social. And as my company now tries to reimagine social discovery it's very helpful.



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