Revolutionizing Local Search: An Interview with Envy, a Neustar Partner
We recently sat down with an interesting new distribution partner for Neustar Localeze. The interview with Jennifer Cosco, co-creator of Envy was conducted by Fred Pfeiffer, Account Executive at Neustar.
Fred: What was the main concept behind the inception of Envy?
Jennifer: The basic idea behind Envy is to address the ability to specifically search locally and visually. Today, people connect with visual social platforms but are bogged down by content on the larger sites. When you go to more simple platforms, like Instagram, it’s not very specific. So, our idea was to take that everyday conversation that happens between friends, like “Hey, where did you get this done?” or “Who did your hair?” and bring that to life digitally. And that is Envy. A visual search engine based on your personal preferences and your location.
Fred: Are there certain categories of products and services that you are going to target? Where do you see Envy being most successful?
Jennifer: We are starting very small, because this is a very large idea. Eventually we want you to be able to search for anything, but we are starting right now with Food & Beverage because these are everyday things that consumers look for and buy. Another category we are starting with is Hair, Nails & Tattoos to really show that aesthetic appeal of these services. Salon owners are loving this! Finally, there is a platform that shows what they are good at – and that’s the visual aesthetics.
Business owners are also loving that their clients are sharing reviews about their products and services. On Yelp, only 5% of users contribute, the rest just search. With Envy, we have proved through analytics that our number of users is growing every week and that the users are posting tons. It only takes 5 seconds for them to put a post out there that really shows the visual side of their businesses.
Our focus right now is on visually oriented businesses as opposed to others. But just for now, we are going to incorporate videos and other cool ways to review certain services that aren’t necessarily visual businesses. We really just want to prove our process, which is why we are only launching in San Diego and Austin with these initial categories. There is a lot more to come, including categories such as Plastic Surgery, as an example.
We are starting our closed beta testing for plastic surgery with an anonymous feature where users can disguise themselves. It doesn’t link to their profile so users can start to honestly talk about lip injections or Botox, without letting people know who they are. So they are able to give that loyal referral that people just can’t seem to find right now unless they are having that 1-on-1 conversation.
Fred: What really makes you guys different?
Jennifer: I know it sounds very simple, but it’s very hard to search specifically. If you go to Google images and type in tattoos, you are going to get everything under the sun. And it’s not necessarily going to be linked to a geographical location of your preference. Same for Instagram. Your eyes will glaze the pictures. And on Yelp, the content is just based on searching keywords.
With Envy, we categorize pictures more effectively than any platform is doing right now. And I do think our user experience is very unique, because it flows easily and gives you the ability to search specifically.
Fred: How are you getting the word out about Envy, like at SXSW?
Jennifer: Being selected as a finalist in the SXSW Accelerator competition, only four months into our journey creating the app, brought us a lot of attention. We went down there to Austin and were chosen as one of five in our category, out of hundreds and hundreds of businesses worldwide. The other four in our category had over $3 million in funding and had been in existence or development for over three years. We got there at such a young stage, because they see the value in what we’re trying to do.
Another way we could have gotten the word out about Envy is by targeting people with 50,000 followers, who post once or twice, for a large sum of money. But with our startup budget we didn’t have cash like that to throw around. So instead, we started targeting people that already have the content that we want to share but only had 3,000 to 5,000 followers.
These people have something to gain by partnering with us and we have something to gain by partnering with them. These ambassadors work directly with the businesses. They go to the businesses about getting Envy content, and the businesses not only get the ability to have their content put on Envy but also on these social influencers’ Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts. It’s been a really good partnership. And because of that, we are creating more relationships with the businesses as well.
Fred: Can you talk a little about how you are using and integrating the Neustar Localeze information?
Jennifer: Yes, right now what makes us unique to other social platforms is the ability to have the businesses listing information already in there. A lot of people get frustrated using Pinterest because it’s not an actionable item. With Envy, everything you see you can get. That’s where Localeze comes in. We bring in the business listing information for the user, so all they have to do is click on the business listing to see a review, link to the website, map the location, call, or even place an order such as scheduling their Uber right there.
A big thanks to Jennifer for sharing these insights behind Envy. What they are doing in this space is transformative and Envy is sure to be a big success. You can read more about Envy in this case study.