Xoogler Spotlight: Seattle Startup Yabbly Wants To Help Prevent Buyer’s Remorse

Yabbler, Seattle Startup, startup interview, Xoogler

We’ve all been there. We bought something from Amazon or in our local department store or Best Buy, just to find out later that we didn’t really like the item, or worse, it didn’t do what we needed it to do. If you’re like me, you even checked out three or four product reviews before buying. That makes the whole situation more annoying.

The problem with those product reviews is that they  either aren’t addressing what we really need out of the item or they were planted by a PR firm or the manufacturer themselves.

Seattle startup Yabbly is looking to change that with their new community of people who are actually out there purchasing items. The site goes deeper than most but in a way that makes it more engaging.

The company was founded by a powerhouse team of founders who know good product. CEO and Co-Founder Tom Leung is a former product manger at Google. Ian Shafer, the engineering lead, actually comes from Amazon. So while Yabbly is going to be filled with user product reviews, the product itself is also going to be easy-to-use and easy-to-understand.

But Yabbly wasn’t created just because it sounded like a good startup. Megh Vakharia who works in the marketing department at Yabbly tells us that the founders created Yabbly because people often have many specific reasons they are looking for a product, and generalized reviews weren’t cutting it.

“For example, someone looking for vacuums specifically to clean up pet hair won’t find many reviews and vacuums that are recommended especially for their pet hair-cleaning abilities. With Yabbly, you can ask a question about how you need a vacuum for pet hair cleanup, and other Yabblers will give you recommendations based on their own experiences,” Vakharia told us in an interview.

You can read the rest of our interview with Yabbly below.


What is your startup called?

Our startup is called Yabbly.

What does your company do?

Yabbly is a platform for thoughtful conversation about product decisions. Members of our community can ask questions about product decisions they’re facing, including information about their specific situation, such as price range, use case, and whatever else is important to them. Our goal is to help people who are facing a product decision find their “product soulmate,” someone who has made a similar product decision in the past. Yabbly is here to help you kill buyer’s remorse by helping you find products you’ll love!

What’s unique about Yabbly is that we guarantee every great question will receive an answer within one day – no other Q&A site matches this.

What problem do you solve?

People relying on Amazon Reviews to help them find the best products face a problem – those reviews could be written by anyone, and the majority of reviews don’t help you figure out if the product will fit your needs. For example, someone looking for vacuums specifically to clean up pet hair won’t find many reviews and vacuums that are recommended especially for their pet hair-cleaning abilities. With Yabbly, you can ask a question about how you need a vacuum for pet hair cleanup, and other Yabblers will give you recommendations based on their own experiences. (this was in fact one of our best threads, with 18 responses)

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds?

The Yabbly team was founded by Tom Leung, CEO, Ian Shafer, engineering lead, and Steven Neuman, UX designer. The team is especially equipped to solve the problem because they helped create it – Tom is a former Google product manager, Ian is a former Amazon engineer, and Steven worked on shopping apps for Target and REI.Where are you based?

Yabbly is based in Pioneer Square, a neighborhood in Seattle, WA.What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

Seattle’s startup scene is awesome, and it’s a growing hub of entrepreneurial activity – especially with people trying to start the next Microsoft or Amazon. VC activity is also ramping up in the area and groups like TechStars Seattle offer entrepreneurs many opportunities to execute their ideas.

Why now?

Americans spend a trillion dollars on products every year, and this will only grow in the future as ecommerce shopping booms. But product reviews haven’t caught up with this – Amazon reviews suck, and Facebook isn’t focused enough to facilitate great conversation about which products to buy. Beyond that, more people are going mobile when making shopping decisions – Yabbly is positioned perfectly to capture this growing market and provide a platform for great discussion about which products to buy.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

-Almost 2,000 questions asked and over 10,000 responses

-On average, each question recieves around 5 responses
-Top 3 in SxSW Startup Accelerator in Social category

– $1.5 million in seed funding

-Rated #2 for “product reviews” on iTunes app store, #15 for “reviews”

What are your next milestones?

-Focus on growing our community with engaged users

-Update iPhone app to be iOS7 compatible

-Improve desktop web app experience

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?

Join the community to get help finding the best products for you!


Check out these other Xoogler founded startups.


Xoogler Gets Acquihired By Google

Xoogler,Google,Android,startup,Behavio,FunfFunf an open sensing framework created by a Xoogler founded startup called Behavio, won the accelerator competition at SXSW 2012.

The platform, launched in October 2011, uses mobile phones as sensors for tracking location, movement, app activity and extended network of it’s users and communities.

The company won a $355,000 grant from the Kauffman Foundation for winning the accelerator competition.

According to Business Insider, and a subsequent update to their original story, Behavio is being acquihired for talent and the Funf product will remain a standalone side project for Nadav Aharony who worked on Google’s Android team before leaving for MIT to finish his PhD.  Alan Gardner and Cody Sumter, Behavio’s other two cofounders will be joining Google as well.

This is a great move for Android’s new head Sundar Pichai, who took over after Andy Rubin switched departments.

Check out more Xoogler startup stories here at nibletz.com

Xoogler Spotlight: Splenvid Zero Button Movie Creation [SXSW]

Splenvid,Xoogler,SXSW,SXSWi,startup pitch video,startup pitch,startupTwo former Googlers (xooglers) who once worked on the UX team at the internet giant have put together something new and exciting called Splenvid.  They spent over a decade at Google building maxable scalable systems so they are taking what they learned there and putting it into their new startup.

Splenvid is the self proclaimed “Zero Button Movie Creation” platform that allows users to tell stories through photos and videos uploaded to the cloud. That’s where the magic happens.

Splenvid is also fully collaborative and content can be combined to make even fuller movies.

All of the media that is uploaded from the user is then intertwined together automagically by Splenvid and spit back out as a complete story.

We got to see the pitch for Splenvid at the TechCocktail Pitch Jam event as SXSW (where I was a judge). While the app hasn’t been released yet, it may be just what the world needs in terms of easy ways to do media. Ease of operation are what make Instagram, Pinterest and Vine so popular.

Sure it’s not hard to string together movies using iMovie or a slew of other movie creation apps, but Splenvid’s value proposition is not having to do anything but upload and wait.

The app should be released later this spring. To get on their waiting list click here. Watch the video below:

Check out more of our startup coverage from SXSW here

Yahoo’s First Mayer Acquisition, New York Startup Stamped

Stamped,New York startup,Yahoo,Marissa Mayer,Startup,Startups,acquisition,xooglerLast April we brought you the profile of New York startup Stamped. Stamped, which is made up of a team of 11 with five being Xooglers, created a recommendation platform that allowed users to put their “stamp of approval” on their favorite places and things.

Stamped offers a unique value proposition by having a quick, easy to understand way of providing recommendations without having to read 1500 word reviews. It’s the recommendation platform for those on the go.

Stamped marks the first Yahoo acquisition under the leadership of new CEO Marissa Mayer who took over the helm at Yahoo six weeks ago after a thirteen year stint at Google.

Prior to this announced acquisition, Stamped had already attracted the attention and investment from Bain Capital Ventures and Google Ventures. Their first round of funding was $1.5 million dollars.  They also have rockstar advisors like Instagram founder Kevin Systrom and food personality Mario Batail.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Mayer made it clear that acquisitions were part of Yahoo’s strategy going forward, in her first quarterly earnings call earlier this week. Several tech and startup focused sites have been speculating on some of the other possible target startups in Mayers cross hairs.

On Tuesday we brought you the story about the hot and heavy rumor that Yahoo may be looking to acquire Baltimore mobile ad startup Millennial Media. 

Like Millennial Media, Stamped is a natural fit for Yahoo who hasn’t had a good review product, much less a mobile product for reviews. Mayer also said that mobile was one of the key focuses for Yahoo going forward as well.

Yahoo Senior Vice President Adam Cahan told the Associated Press that Stamped would be “a great asset as we expand Yahoo’s mobile efforts and build a world-class mobile development organization.”

Stamped issued a statement on their website today that said:

“We’re excited to start work again on something big, mobile, and new — but we can’t discuss the details just yet. And we’re really stoked to be able to hire lots of talented engineers and designers for this new project.”


Stamped is here

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Xoogler Spotlight Interview With Boston Startup Price Intelligently

Although it may not seem like it, pricing products and services is one of the hardest things that a business owner has to do. They of course need to make money and make a profit but at the same time, it’s a scary thought to most that a bad price could leave product sitting on the shelves for an indefinite amount of time. There is a huge problem with the way prices are calculated these days, and that just shouldn’t be in the 21st century.

Former Boston based Googler (Xoogler) Patrick Campbell has set out to find a way to more accurately and more effectively price products.  As he tells us in the interview below, until now business owners have relied on weak data, archaic practices and even “gut feelings” when it comes to pricing. Price Intelligently’s technology is built on a scientifically proven methodology that leverages existing and potential customers to determine a products price.

How important is pricing? Campbell tells us that a 1% improvement on price correlates to an average increase of profits of 12.5%.

Check out our interview with Campbell below:

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Xoogler Spotlight: Powhow Learn New Hobbies In The Comfort Of Your Own Home

xoogler, powhow, viva chu, startup, new york startup, nibletz, techcrunch, pandodailyFormer Googler Viva Chu has come up with something that hasn’t been done before. His new, New York based startup, PowHow allows people to take classes via webcam from the comfort of their own home.

Whether you want to learn how to knit socks, make fancy gift wrap or take a fitness class, there’s no need to comb the internet to find out when the next local class is happening. There’s no need to worry whether the class will be canceled because the instructor’s kids are sick. Powhow brings the class to your PC or Mac.

The classes cost each participant between $10- $30. Powhow takes a flat 30% fee off each “ticket” sold and the teacher gets the rest of the money. Simple enough right?

Now, all those great crafters on Pinterest could make a couple bucks sharing their knowledge using Chu’s new platform. It’s like Google Hangouts meets Pinterest for money.

More after the break

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Xoogler Spotlight: Alohar Mobile, Putting A Bigger Spin On Siri

In a Keynote at the 2011 Google’s then CEO, Eric Schmidt described an experience where integrated mobile technology into commerce would mean you could walk down the street, close to your favorite clothing store and have a new pair of pants pulled off the shelves, bagged for you and waiting when you got to the store. This kind of technology is what ex-Googler Sam Liang is working on with his new start up Alohar Mobile.

Liang described the technology he and his co-founders are working on as “Siri after Siri” in a recent interview with Forbes’ magazines resident start up and entrepreneur guru Ryan Mac in an interview.

Liang has described scenarios like this one, you wake up one morning with a head cold, you miss your usual drive time and you haven’t found your way to the office. After confirming with your calendar that you didn’t have any other appointment in the place of work, your phone automatically makes an appointment at the doctor for you. This is the kind of smart computing that  phones will be able to do with a technology Liang dubs as “persistent sensing”.

More after the break
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Xoogler Spotlight: MyGola Locals Puts A New Spin In Travel Apps For Android

If you’re not familiar with the term Xoogler it’s a relatively new term that ex-Google employees have come up for themselves, as in Ex-Googler. In 2012 Mashable featured 15 start ups that were founded by Xooglers. Many of the start ups were re-hashments of 20% projects. Google was known for allowing employees to work on projects that weren’t part of their daily work for 20% of their work week.

While Google had first dibs at 20% projects some of the ideas that came out were either not picked up by Google, or just developed totally outside of Google.

Such is the case for Anshuman Bapna. Bapna worked in Google’s advertising department and handled major accounts with a focus on travel. He had travel industry experience before working at Google and left the search giant to develop mygola.com.  The website mygola.com takes a different spin on travel by having hired travel advisers recommend travel destinations and give advice on places to go, one on one but in an open forum. Instead of a corporate structure that puts dollars before travel, mygola offers the end user information first. It’s fueled by industry partnerships and of course advertising vs bookings.

Bapna wanted to get into the mobile space but didn’t want to offer just another hotel booking app or flight booking app. Bapna wanted to offer a resource for people once they got into a strange city or destination. That’s where Mygola Locals came up.

MyGola Locals has sourced ordinary English speaking people in international destinations and even here in the U.S. These people have signed up to be “locals”. As a local their profile and phone number go into the apps data base and when someone gets to a new destination they can actually call someone, free of charge, to get advice on anything from restaurants, to the best way to get from the airport to the hotel.

Bapna wanted to use an actual phone conversation vs texting or messaging because it opens up a whole new form of interaction. Also, in areas where people aren’t familiar, a friendly voice can be relaxing to someone, especially in a foreign country.

MyGola Locals uses an anonymizing call switcher/dialer that calls all the locals in a queue until someone picks up. When they do pick up the end user talks to them on the phone and sees their photo along with key profile information.

The MyGola locals system also allows the “locals” to set times, dates, and hours that they are available. Some locals may be more comfortable recommending night life from say 10pm-2am while others may be available in the morning. This insures that the end user doesn’t wake someone up or interrupt them while they are working.

Bapna set up his first U.S. market in Austin Texas for South By Southwest the past two weeks. He told us in an interview that plenty of people were using the service, in fact more than he originally thought. I had the opportunity to try it out. In a town full of food trucks and barbecue I was looking for the best burger around and found a few good recommendations of sit-down restaurants that were pleasing. The local even took my phone number and texted me later in the day to make sure I had found his first recommendation.

Bapna was hoping to build scale from out of town users to become locals in their own town, which also worked out better than planned.

If you’re ready to try it, here’s a link to MyGola Locals in the Google Play Store.