BarFinderNaija is a discovery service that lets users find bars and restaurants close to their locations. Once they find a bar or restaurant and actually go there, they can“check in”, and their friends can see where they are and what they are doing.
It was pretty obviously designed to work best on mobile. Aesthetics, location services et al.
Even better with the mobile app from the Google Play Store.
Users can search for businesses around their present location, view pictures/videos, read user reviews and if they eventually visit these places, they can check in, so their friends know where they are. The users with the most check-ins at a particular location becomes the “Chairman” or “Boss” of that location, and those with the most unique visits accumulate points for being “Super explorers”.
I raised concerns about security, because people with unsavoury intentions could watch out for the bars people visit regularly and stalk them, but founder, Florence Olumodimu pointed out that the aim is to engage users at various levels and give them a reason to visit outlets. “If we were all to worry about that”, she continued, “no one would use any Location-Based-Services.”
BarFinderNaija sounds a lot like Foursquare (and it’s companion app, Swarm), which doesn’t have amazing growth numbers, and so I’m wondering how many Nigerians will engage aggressively with it. I see this app being useful to travellers, tourists (how many of those do we have in Lagos?) and people who are relatively unfamiliar with the city to find local businesses to patronise. Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, cinemas, barber shops, supermarkets and the like.
I’m not so big on all the gamification though. Clearly, the idea was to set up a rewards-based system, to drive in-app user engagement, but many of those other things can be done outside the app, on social platforms, which I reckon all have a large (diverse) enough user base to be very useful.
At the moment, the service is only available in Lagos but Florence says that Abuja and Port Harcourt are being profiled at the moment, and we should see a rollout for users in those locations soon.