OMG another location-based mobile application that allows you to take pictures? I literally had to email the founder of Doot, Srujan Akula, about 20 times to make clear this wasn’t just a reincarnation of Foursquare. And, in a nutshell, that’s what differentiates Doot — rather than going to a place and pulling tips and recommendations, the idea behind Doot is that, based on your location, the application will push friend-generated recommendations, tips, and pictures to you.
You can test drive Doot’s iOS application, but fair warning, it’s still being developed. They are in bootstrap mode and raising angel money from friends and former coworkers. They expect to release an app for Android by mid-October.
The basic idea is that a user leave “doots” for their friends at various places, and eventually, you pick up “doots” when you get to that location. For instance, if I frequent a certain restaurant in SOMA, I can take a picture and attach it to a “doot” for any of my friends, and they will only notice that doot when they are either in and/or close to the restaurant. A push notification will appear, rather than the user going to pull for recommendations. In early tests, Akula has noticed that of all the features, the experience of delight at receiving a friend’s doot is the most commented aspect of the service. (This is sort of reminiscent of Scvngr, though this could be used in different ways. And, Andreessen Horowitz just invested $1.5m into Wickets, which is a similar theme, though this space is getting crowded, which is why I like the “push” aspect of Doot.)
Doot is very much early-stage and potentially suitable for individual angel investors. So far, they are approaching 1,000 users, but that’s been organic while finishing the product. Their goal is to finish the year with over 5,000, and over that time, they hope to release more features such as topic-based requests for doots, as well as the ability to leave virtual gifts behind for people tied to places. There is a bit of Foursquare here, but the act of leaving little easter eggs for friends is subtle yet distinguishes the service, but also may tap into.
Akula used to lead the new product team at TeleNav, and more recently, was the director of products for GreenRoad. His team also consists of former developers from TeleNav. I like the idea of leaving things behind for friends that are not public, like tips, and am also generally a fan of services that are mobile and push people to go out and explore rather than stay inside. Call me crazy! The big challenge for Doot, as with any product, is to find the right groups to use it early and be delighted enough to redeem doots, but more importantly, encouraged enough to create them to begin with.