Q&A with LocalMind co-founder and CEO Lenny Rachitsky about mobile check-ins and the company’s $600K seed funding round
LocalMind has created an application that allows a new level of interactivity with mobile check-ins and location-based services. The San Francisco–based company was founded in January of this year, and recently closed a $600K funding round.
SUB: What is the value proposition LocalMind brings to the mobile content market?
Rachitsky: We add real day-to-day value to the check-in, and location-based services. When you check-in, you become available to be sent questions about the location you are at. Other members can use that check-in to send you questions about what’s happening at that location in real-time, to avoid disappointment and wasted time. We’re already sharing our location with numerous services, checking in and earning virtual rewards. Why not help others and feel good at the same time?
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Rachitsky: This is a totally new space that we’re helping to build. For our stage of company, the real competition is apathy.
SUB: What differentiates LocalMind from your competitors (or from those offering similar services)?
Rachitsky: Our focus has always been location-based, real-time Q&A—giving you insight into what’s happening at a location you care about right now. We also sit on top of your existing behavior—i.e. checking in. These elements, and our current roadmap, are focused on providing as much value to our users as possible, based on what we’ve been hearing from them. We aren’t worried about our competition, or differentiating from them.
SUB: How are you marketing the service?
Rachitsky: Today, it’s been mostly word of mouth and press. We also have some viral components to our app, including sharing to Twitter/Facebook when you ask and answer questions, and inviting your friends. We’re working on some new things along these lines I can’t yet talk about.
SUB: How does LocalMind differentiate from or integrate with other mobile check-in services?
Rachitsky: We integrate with the three most popular check-in services (e.g. Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook). Our goal is to work with any services that share your location, and provide you with more value beyond the basic check-in.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind LocalMind? Was there an “aha” moment, or was the idea longer in developing?
Rachitsky: The idea actually came as a result of working on my previous site, Assisted Serendipity (www.assistedserendipity.com). I realized pretty quickly that there is tremendous value in knowing where people are, especially to people that want to know what’s happening in that location right now. It was pretty obvious what had to be built in order to accomplish that.
SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took to establishing it?
Rachitsky: It was founded in January of this year. I left my job, a job I had for just under 10 years, and moved to Montreal of all places. We worked with an incubator called Year One Labs, which gave us office space and connections and product support and all kinds of great things.
SUB: You recently raised $600K in outside funding. How do you plan to spend the funds?
Rachitsky: Mostly on hiring exceptional people.
SUB: Do you plan to raise more funding in the near future?
Rachitsky: Most likely yes, probably early next year.
SUB: What have the biggest obstacles been so far to building LocalMind?
Rachitsky: Getting the word out about what we’ve built, that’s always the hardest part of any company.
SUB: Where do you see LocalMind in about a year from now?
Rachitsky: Creating a hive-mind of humanity.