What: “Checking in” has become somewhat of an obsession in today’s super-social society – and there are all sorts of apps that let you announce to others that you “have arrived.” Sometimes you need to use several different check-in programs, depending on whether the people you want to connect to are using Foursquare, Facebook. GoWalla, and others.
But checking in can be a hassle – there’s lots of typing and clicking to do, and if you need to check in on more than one service, you’ve just lost ten minutes of your life. But as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words – and thanks to PicALogo, you can now save yourself the hassle of typing a thousand (or even a dozen) words by checking in via the logo of the site you find yourself at!
Let’s say you’re at a computer show at the Hilton. Instead of opening all your social networking and check-in programs to let people know that you’re in the room, you just take a photo of the Hilton logo, using your smartphone’s camera. Using a combination of networking technologies (GPS, wifi, etc.) PicALogo figures out which Hilton you’re at – and lists your location on all the social networks you’ve registered on (and have given PicALogo permission to post to, of course).
Besides checking in to social networks, PicALogo also plans to offer customers the option of checking in with stores they may be shopping at – thus allowing the store to send them special offers and deals.
Why: PicALogo sees a real business opportunity in the checking-in process, says company CEO Eli Swed. “Right now, checking-in is seen as something for ‘geeks’ at computer conferences, etc.” says Swed. “If you’re not into social networking, you won’t bother with an app like Foursquare. But with PicAlogo’s coupon program, suddenly everyone in the mall has a reason to check-in. And the fact that the check-in is done just by taking a photo means that even the least geeky user – like my 70 year old grandmother who goes shopping in the supermarket – will be able to use it, and save money.” The coupon program works for businesses, too, giving them access to groups of committed customers who are more likely to respond to the “just for them” deals they can get from stores.
Why logos? “Because they’re distinct, easy to access – you find them on walls, napkins, signs – and they’re everywhere,” says Swed. Right now the company has a large and expanding logo database, and each time a new one comes in PicAlogo updates the database with locations and users. The ease of use and the time saved – along with the potential savings from the coupons – practically guarantee the success of this young Israeli startup.
Israel connection: PicAlogo was founded by Amit Sherman, Ziv Kitlaro, Yael Nathan and Eli Swed. Swed has had a long history in Web 2.0 and social networking, founding social network Inter8ting and co-founding Qendix, which makes applications to cut down waiting times for theme park attractions. PicALogo is privately funded, and is currently a side project for Swed and the others. But that could change soon, he says. The app garnered 100,000 downloads the weekend it was introduced. The privately funded company is located in Tel Aviv and currently has about 10 employees – but Swed believes that a major expansion is in the offing. “We already have a partner in the U.S. who is working with us on the coupon aspect of PicAlogo,” says Swed. “They love the app, as does everybody who has tried it.”