SAN FRANCISCO--At the TechCrunch50 conference (coverage), I'm a little surprised we haven't seen any dating sites yet. After all, the economy may be in shambles, but the Internet never ceases to come up with new ways to help people meet. Matchmaking is still in the air though--and this time there's money involved.
Local Bacon, Red Beacon, and Mota Motors, three newly announced start-ups have a very similar aim: doing something better than Craigslist, and making money off it. In Local Bacon's case, it's helping job seekers and employees find each other by simplifying data. For Red Beacon, it's helping people more easily find service providers, then get them to execute a job. And for Mota Motors, it's about linking up car buyers and sellers while offering some hand-holding to make the process a little easier.
Out of the three, Local Bacon is the most risky. It's asking employers to work with a uniform format for job listings, so that all submitted jobs look the same and are easier to parse and search in Local Bacon's job finder. This is great for people trying to find based on certain qualifications, although it requires employers to reformat their listings, which can be a pain if they're sending it out to several job listing sites at once, or have certain qualifications that may not fit into Local Bacon's template.
It's also requiring job applicants to pay 99 cents per job to apply.
Local Bacon hopes that fee will help focus who applies for jobs, as well as keep the company afloat. It also helps provide tools for both applicants and employers to monitor and manage applications. For instance job seekers can get notified when their application has been looked at by the employer. That's something you don't usually find out until you get called in for an interview.
The company said it's got tools on its road map that will help employers sort through applications by skill set, educational background, and more. For now that's something they have to keep track of on their own.
For people looking for someone to a one-time job and those who want to do it, there's Red Beacon. It helps people request a local service, then compare prices from local providers. It has a scheduling tool that lets you put out an order for whatever you need; its system then goes out and finds people to do it for you. On the other end, service providers can put out a quote for how much they would do the job for, then you as the service seeker can you get to pick the one you want.
To help users choose providers, companies get ratings and reviews from previous consumers, along with any photos they've taken to back up that work. Red Beacon also pulls in the aggregate rating from Yelp's API.
Companies that want to be included have to manually add their information, something that will later be verified by Red Beacon to weed out any false ones--although that's not yet available. The service will also be limited to the Bay Area until the company sees how well it does.
The third matchmaking service, Mota Motors, aims to make car buying and selling easier. It asks straightforward questions about your car's condition, then scans an index on the Web to give you a recommended sale price. It's hooked up to a number of service providers to help sellers get their car certified or fixed up before a sale. It can also write a description for you, including any selling points, meaning that you don't need an English degree to write elegant prose about your 1987 Honda.
For buyers, Mota Motors offers tools that offer advice and suggestions on questions to ask, or things to check before making a purchase. This includes a partnership with Pep Boys that has Pep Boys repair technicians doing a standardized inspection that gets posted to the car's info page to help you make sure it's not a lemon and warn you on any work that needs to be done.
So which of these three would I use? Considering I've got a car that needs selling, Mota Motors doesn't sound like such a bad idea. And as a soon-to-be buyer of a used car, I really dig the idea of having a system of verifying a used car to let me know what work it needs done. Of course the caveat with Mota Motors, as well as the others is that they're currently limited by location. For Local Bacon, it's the greater New York area, while Red Beacon and Mota Motors are limited to Northern and Southern California respectively.