Apprentice Runner-up goes hyper-local

Seattle-based Zoodango.com relaunched yesterday with a hyperlocal map-based online service that combines computer intelligence and geo-search to help consumers efficiently find and discover local businesses and deals. Zoodango allows users to conduct a geographic searches without the need to input specific keywords – the result is that users can explore a neighbourhood.

Zoodango is unique compared to services like Google Maps, which is a keyword-based search system that displays keyword results on a map. On Google, users have to enter specific keywords to invoke a search request; therefore, the users must know what they are looking for. Zoodango’s geo-search engine allows users to browse everything in a particular geography and discover or stumble upon new places that they might not have known about.

Zoodango feels their platfrom will be an effective marketing tool for local businesses because it allows them to leverage their location as a way of being found rather than only relying on keywords in a search engine. Makes sense.

Another differentiator from competitor sites is the way Zoodango allows users to rate venues. Most local sites like Citysearch or Yelp use an absolute rating system (e.g. 1-5 stars), making it quite common to find multiple businesses in a specific location with the same score and conflicting reviews. Zoodango offers a unique solution by offering a comparative scoring engine that automatically rates a venue’s popularity compared to similar venues in the same city.

Zoodango is currently available for Seattle, Spokane, Portland, San Francisco, and Oakland. Zoodango was founded by James Sun – a former runner-up on Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” – and is funded by prominent angel investors and the Seattle Alliance of Angels. Investors include ex-Microsoft SVPs, former venture capitalists, and the founder of Classmates.com.