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With the explosive growth of services like Twitter and Foursquare it can be increasingly difficult to cut through all the chatter to the info you really want. You can search all the live long day on that local steakhouse’s Twitter account (if they even have one), use as many creative hashtags as you like (#SteakosaurusRex is our go-to), and you still may never find out if that steak is still as juicy and delicious as the first time you went there.

This is one of the many scenarios where Chicago startup Evzdrop comes in handy. Looking to redefine the way location-based tech is used in mobile apps today, Evzdrop gives both users and businesses the chance to interact with one another in a more direct way than ever before. Instead of Tweeting and only interacting with followers about what’s happening at a locale, Evzdrop allows users to make “drops” (essentially posts) about what’s happening at a specific place right then. Other users and even the business or venue owner can see the post, find out what’s up, and start a conversation about it in the drop thread.

I sat down with Evzdrop co-founder and CEO David Rush, who shared the inspiration behind the new service that, in an age of meaningless check-ins, is placing new value on actually being there.

 

 

What is the backstory behind Evzdrop?

We first had the idea for Evzdrop about a year and a half ago. It was a combination of two things. We recognized that there was a lot of social media chatter that wasn’t really that relevant. If the friend from high school posted on Facebook how they were having spaghetti and meatballs that night for dinner at home, you’d sort of scratch your head and say, “Did I really need to know about that?”

On the other hand what was interesting was what the stranger who was eating at the restaurant thought of the rib special at the place you’d be going to in an hour. If we knew that they were really at the place there was great insight that could be gained from this person you don’t actually know.

We saw an opportunity to really create more relevance around location technology and allow people to, in essence, eavesdrop on places through people that were there in real time. There was an interesting value proposition to both the person who wanted to find out about a place they might be going and the businesses themselves, who could now respond to real time sentiment.

Why should someone use Evzdrop over Twitter or Foursquare?

Our community includes people that are adding places to their feed, so on Evzdrop you’re following places instead of people. For example, if I have the United Center in my feed I’ll get a notification every time someone drops from there. It may be someone I know, or it might be someone I’ve never heard from before.

 

 

The second constituency is the business or venue themselves. Now we’re working with over 50 businesses here in Chicago who are authorized to get a notification each time someone drops, and in most cases will respond to those drops more quickly than they will Tweets because they know the person is actually there.

Have there been any surprising or unexpected ways you’ve seen users interacting with Evzdrop?

Businesses have used it to promote spontaneous deals to help draw attention to their venue and help bring in customers. They’ve used it to have real time communication with someone within the thread of a drop, whether that’s clarifying hours or drink specials or if they accept credit cards. They’ve found it a much more open forum to share information that can benefit not just that one user but anyone that’s within that conversation.

For users we’ve seen them use it at events. For instance, you can follow the United Center where we’ve created a geofence that only includes users within the building, so you know any drops you see from that location are people actually at the game.

What has been your biggest challenge?

I think when you’re launching a two-sided network, which we are, you’ve doubled your workload; we have to get both businesses and users onboard to make it work.

When you introduce a new concept you’re constantly educating users on the benefits. We get thrown into the category of location based services and in a lot of people’s minds that’s defined by a check in. We’re trying to reconfigure that mindset to have them think of location as more of a qualification or a verification of someone’s ability to actually express an opinion.

What keeps you up at night?

Usually my four year-old daughter that jumps in bed at about two in the morning.

When there’s so much to get done it’s a matter of prioritizing what’s important and as a startup you’re constantly looking to make sure you have enough runway as far as funding is concerned. You’re also always looking at how your user base is growing and how your roster of businesses is growing. It’s a multitude of things that probably keep me thinking almost 24 hours a day -- it’s really all those things at this stage.

 

 

What’s next for Evzdrop?

We’re excited about the number of businesses that are now on our platform using the mobile app and using the data to run campaigns and connect with users in real time. We are excited to embark on some updates to the mobile app and the product that will add that much more utility and value to our user base.

We have some interesting things in store for not only the businesses that we’re working with, but some of the businesses that we’re talking to about customizing a solution for them that would provide them even more functionality than exists in today’s solution. That’s to come in the next quarter or two, but we’re excited about that. By the end of this year we’ll be generating revenues based on premium services that we’ll be offering to our stable of clients.

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