PlayCez, Discover the Best places to Shop & Hang Out Around You

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YourStory.in, in conversation with Anirudh Maitra, Founder of PlayCez, a location based recommendation engine. Below are the edited excerpts from the conversation:About PlayCez

PlayCez is a recommendation engine for local discovery, which helps you find the best places to eat, shop and hang-out nearby in an experiential manner.

Market Differentiators

Firstly, we have built our proprietary ranking algorithm to group and rank local businesses, based on parameters such as online reputation on major social networking platforms as well as reviews on our own system. The algorithm allows us to provide high quality recommendations for all kind of user search queries.

The suggestions provided by our recommendation engine are personalized. For instance, we show reviews by a friend on top of all other reviews, which makes it really easy for our users to make decisions, as users bank on trusted tips and opinions of friends to base their decisions.

We felt that adding a review or sharing an experience about a place should be drop-dead simple and that is why we have made this a single-click process, wherein people can share their experiences by simple choosing from a set of emoticons and writing an optional tip. Our emoticon based review system is very easy to create and equally easy to understand, as compared to a star based rating systems. Seriously, what does a 3.5 out of 5 stars rating actually mean?(smiles)We are proud of our UI/UX, and our interface flow has been designed to follow the thinking pattern of a user, thereby making the process of giving inputs a really easy task for the user. We are not just an other directory listing!

We are also working on meaningful analytics and social media marketing solutions for local businesses, which will help them in generating leads by using Facebook, Google+, Twitter and other platforms. We feel there is a real need in the market for this, and we are working on some really exciting features for local businesses. Local businesses can sign-up for an early invite.

Major Pain Points

People generally ask someone in their social circle for recommendations or go on the internet to search and end up on a review site. We found that the existing review sites and search engines are simply not built for allowing people to take decisions easily, and the whole process lacks intuition. We found lots of pain points associated with this process.

There are hundreds of directories and local review sites which provide local search but none of them help in local discovery to get real recommendations.

Everybody has a limited social circle and asking someone is not always a feasible option.

Most of the reviews are fake reviews put by businesses themselves.

Nobody has the time to read long textual reviews (especially when reading on mobiles).

Majority of the people don’t write reviews about places they love/hate, because it’s a complicated task to register on a review site and write a textual review. That’s where we saw the need to build a product like PlayCez.

Founders background

I am an Electrical and Electronics Engineer from BITS, Pilani with two previous start-up experiences. I co-founded a couple of companies, the first being a product design company and the second a web based e-learning product. I previously worked at Google with the search quality team where I worked on core web spam related projects.

My partner Ashwani Gaur, is an Electrical Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur with solid consulting and product engineering work experiences at companies like Deloitte. He also has previous start-up experience, having founded a social media aggregation platform named XpressUp during his college years.Partnerships and Tie-ups

We have close to 5000 registered users who really love our product. On the business front, we have done a major pilot with 12 local businesses in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, and all of them had great feedback regarding our product and it’s utility as an engagement mechanism for businesses.

We have got a very positive feedback from our users with many of them appreciating our UI & UX. We have been finalists at two Business Plan Competitions Eureka, IITB and The Next Big Idea, IIMB.

Going Forward

We see PlayCez as becoming a de-facto on local recommendations for any type of user needs in the next 5 years. On the business front, we see ourselves being leaders in building products/solutions that truly help local businesses in their key endeavors of lead generation and customer engagement.

Fundraising

We were offered funding by a major Indian Venture Capital firm 4 months back, which we decided not to take up, so as to focus on product development, and to bring in true elements of bootstrapping which we feel helped us in making a lot of good decisions that we think will benefit us in the long run. Having developed the product to a great deal, we are now in touch with potential investors for our business.

Team

We have a team of 4 supercharged ninjas! Our core engineering team is me and Ashwani, and we both are responsible for all that you see in PlayCez as a product. We also have a 2 member data processing team which handles data related work-flows. We are looking to increase our team size soon, by adding people for Sales and Business Development. We will also be hiring great engineering talent to work on some of the latest technologies that will power Playcez in the future.

Expansion Plans

We have launched our recommendation platform for three cities Delhi (NCR), Mumbai and Bangalore. We will soon be expanding our offering for more cities like Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai. On the product side, we will be launching our mobile applications for Android and iPhone in the near future. On the business front, we will be launching some major initiatives soon.

Do check out their website for more details.

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