Mexico, DF — With his light eyes and strawberry blonde hair, Ricardo Suarez does not fit the stereotypical image of someone from Mexico. Same for what he does. On September 12th, he launched an application that aims to become “Mexico’s entertainment reference,” as he explained to me at The Green Corner, a restaurant café in the La Condesa neighborhood.
Yumbling looks at first like a mashup of Yelp’s online user restaurant reviews and FourSquare, allowing mobile owners to use GPS to check-in to places and find friends, with a gaming layer to encourage them to do so as often as possible.
A mashup is already a creation, but Suarez is not satisfied stopping there. He has added databases of movie and theater schedules, as well as a list of bars, restaurants, and other leisure venues, which is kept as up-to-date as possible.
He most notably added what he calls a “social DNA” algorithm, which personalizes the experience. So when when users sign up, they are invited to define themselves as being more arts-inclined, family-oriented or fun-loving. This allows Yumbling to make fairly precise recommendations.
I was especially intrigued by the fact that the app recommends different restaurants based on if I’m going out on Friday night or Sunday morning, or whether I want to hang out with friends or have a family meal.
Suarez also says that he has developed a geolocalization layer that lets the app recommend places based on their distance from where I am. 1km, 5km, 10km — Mexico is a really big city. In the future this will allow advertisers to send offers to people who in proximity to their physical locations. Suarez promises that this is “as an opt-in feature,” meaning that it will only be activated for those users who agree to receive the messages.
In a country like Mexico where you really have to search for innovative businesses – something I’ll return to in my next posts – Yumbling seemed interesting to me because, unlike many others, it is not a simple copy of something that already exists somewhere else. It is inspired by other apps, but it combines them while adding its own layers.
The most curious thing, according to Ricardo Suarez, is this: the more you innovate, the harder finding money seems to become.
To be continued…