Poynt – the yellow pages for mobile – tell us why they have edge over Foursquare, and why they were into mobile in 2002


Poynt got in touch with us after we wrote this piece about how difficult it is to get location right on mobile. In the piece I complained that a lot of the services didn’t provide real reasons to keep using them..

Well, CEO of Poynt Andrew Osis has got several good reasons why you should use Poynt and why you should keep using it. If longevity is good sign in the tech world, these guys have everything in their favour, they’ve been tinkering around with location on mobile phones since 2002, using instant messenger queries to provide local information back in that dark time when apps weren’t even invented and people would have laughed at you if you said “iPhone”.

Anyway, in the packed market of location apps, what has Poynt got going for it? a focus on the USER according to Andrew [and those are his capitals]. And an awareness that services need to solve problems to be truly useful.

As he says: “the gaming aspect of checking in or notifying the world where you are is neat, but what problem does it solve?”.

From its background as a mobile yellowpages service, Poynt uses clean accurate information designed to people to businesses – giving you help when you need to know something about what’s around you quickly.

Poynt is currently on Blackberry and iPhone in the UK, Android in the next few weeks, and it will be rolling out to the rest of Europe shortly. It’s also coming to Windows 7 and Nokia.

We Interviewed CEO Andrew Osis over instant chat (how else), scroll down for the transcripts.

[15:39:20] Anna Leach: One *more* question are you worried about Facebook places…?
[15:39:36] Andrew Osis: no
[15:39:54] Andrew Osis: facebook places is like all user generated content providers
[15:40:01] Andrew Osis: the data is only as good as the last posting
[15:40:10] Andrew Osis: so its notoriously incomplete
[15:40:12] Andrew Osis: and biased
[15:40:26] Andrew Osis: it will provide additional information for a service like ours
[15:40:29] Anna Leach: ah i see, so same with foursquare?
[15:40:47] Andrew Osis: foursquare is really going to find it tough to compete with facebook and yelp
[15:40:53] Andrew Osis: they are in a very competitive spot and i wouldnt want to be in their shoes
[15:41:11] Andrew Osis: we dont compete with those guys
[15:41:18] Andrew Osis: they can be data providers to our service
[15:41:28] Anna Leach: mm, so you see yourself in separate territory – the information dealers not the content curators
[15:41:47] Andrew Osis: mmm
[15:41:50] Andrew Osis: yes and no
[15:41:57] Andrew Osis: we are a local search company
[15:42:10] Andrew Osis: we provide a conduit for users to get accurate up to date information
[15:42:13] Andrew Osis: to solve a problem
[15:42:22] Andrew Osis: the gaming aspect of checking in or notifying the world where you are is neat, but what problem does it solve
[15:42:57] Andrew Osis: we connect people with the businesses around them
[15:43:02] Anna Leach: mm, “the solve a problem” bit is an interesting point. that comes up quite often with techie innovation.
[15:43:11] Andrew Osis: and then they can tell their friends where they are going
[15:43:30] Andrew Osis: because we deeply integrate with the device you can push a listing to a friend via text/email and say
[15:43:41] Andrew Osis: i am going here for coffee, this is the address
[15:43:49] Andrew Osis: and here is the app that got me there
[15:43:54] Andrew Osis: come and join me
[15:44:07] Andrew Osis: it certainly doesnt need to be announced to the world
[15:44:18] Andrew Osis: sometimes announcement are a great thing
[15:44:21] Anna Leach: oh yeah, i see. so that comes when it’s useful, not just when it’s flaunting your cool location in your status
[15:44:27] Andrew Osis: but that is more of a novelty
[15:44:30] Andrew Osis: yes
[15:44:54] Andrew Osis: solving a problem is a better value proposition
[15:45:02] Andrew Osis: for the user
[15:45:07] Andrew Osis: the advertiser
[15:45:12] Andrew Osis: and for us

[15:05:42] Anna Leach: So when did you found Poynt and what gave you the idea to start it up?
[15:06:09] Andrew Osis: myself, and 2 other gentlemen founded the company in 2002
[15:06:33] Andrew Osis: it was based upon the idea that you should be able to get the information you want, at your finger tips
[15:06:42] Andrew Osis: ie the yellow pages on a mobile device
[15:07:00] Anna Leach: ah interesting. 2002 is ahead of the curve – not many people were considering mobile back then…
[15:07:19] Andrew Osis: yes well, we canadians are ahead of the curve….
[15:07:23] Andrew Osis: ;)
[15:07:26] Anna Leach: haha
[15:08:16] Anna Leach: well I guess your product has changed a lot in the 8 years you’ve been running then, because there have been a lot of technological changes in that time right? gps, apps…compasses
[15:08:33] Andrew Osis: yes
[15:08:40] Anna Leach: the fact that 20% of the population has a smartphone..

[15:08:54] Anna Leach: what was your first product like? a text service?
Andrew Osis: the first product actually used a voice portal, then pushed back a wap session.
Andrew Osis: we found that voice recognition was terrible. still isnt very good today, then it was awful
Andrew Osis: so we actually transitioned to an IM front end, using mobile devices that connected through windows live messenger or yahoo messenger
[15:10:24] Andrew Osis: they could add a contact
[15:10:36] Andrew Osis: that would connect to our service,
[15:10:58] Andrew Osis: and perform look ups of yellow pages information through a natural language chat
[15:11:01] Andrew Osis: worked pretty well, but users didnt like it very much
[15:11:30] Anna Leach: ah why so? too techie for the mainstream?
[15:11:36] Andrew Osis: not sure, just didnt seem to catch on. people didnt think of search when they use IM
[15:12:22] Anna Leach: mm, fair enough, users are quite hard to train
[15:12:32] Andrew Osis: YES THEY ARE


[15:22:01] Anna Leach: poynt still does similar stuff to what it did when you launched – you said it gave you “the information you want, at your finger tips”
[15:22:11] Andrew Osis: yes
[15:22:19] Andrew Osis: it Is focused on the USER
[15:22:23] Andrew Osis: what the user needs
[15:22:24] Andrew Osis: wants
[15:22:33] Anna Leach: ah ha, okay good point
[15:22:34] Andrew Osis: helps to solve a problem the user has
[15:22:48] Andrew Osis: that is really a fundamental point for us
[15:22:53] Andrew Osis: the USER is the most important thing


[15:23:15] Anna Leach: so was about to ask – it’s obviously a competitive market for location-based apps, is that what makes you stand out?
[15:23:25] Andrew Osis: partly
[15:23:32] Anna Leach: sell it to me
[15:23:47] Andrew Osis: because we focus on the user, we have much higher stickiness,
[15:23:59] Andrew Osis: because we solve problems for the user, rather than have them play a game, they can find what they need, when they need it and solve their problem right away
[15:24:27] Andrew Osis: it’s FUNCTION over form
[15:24:49] Andrew Osis: we also listen very carefully to our users

[15:26:49] Anna Leach: interesting okay, and how do you make money from the service?
[15:27:00] Andrew Osis: basically from each user interaction
[15:27:16] Andrew Osis: a user logs a query and that generates $ for us
[15:27:21] Andrew Osis: purchasing of tickets
[15:27:29] Andrew Osis: booking of restaurant reservations
[15:27:39] Andrew Osis: and then advertising that we provide through the service
[15:27:51] Anna Leach: makes sense
[15:27:57] Andrew Osis: so its free for the user
[15:28:25] Andrew Osis: we are looking at adding coupons/daily deals to the service
[15:28:36] Andrew Osis: so that shoppers that want the best deal can find that
[15:28:52] Andrew Osis: as well we will be adding events, (concerts etc) to the service

[15:29:12] Anna Leach: interesting. So looking at the app now, you do list stuff by location, but you don’t say have much user input (tips/rankings etc)
[15:29:22] Andrew Osis: not as yet
[15:29:28] Andrew Osis: we are going to add that very soon
[15:29:35] Andrew Osis: everything we add to the service
[15:29:41] Andrew Osis: is as a result of user feedback
[15:29:43] Anna Leach: oh okay so that would be an extra way to filter results then?
[15:29:51] Andrew Osis: we receive 100’s of emails every day
[15:30:03] Andrew Osis: that usually tell us how much people like the service
[15:30:17] Andrew Osis: but about 10% of them tell us what they would like to see in the service
[15:30:29] Andrew Osis: so we will be adding User Generated Content
[15:30:32] Andrew Osis: very soon
[15:30:47] Andrew Osis: and yes people will be able to filter on reviews/rankings
[15:31:01] Anna Leach: i see interesting.
[15:31:10] Andrew Osis: UGC is a difficult thing to do
[15:31:15] Anna Leach: yeah i can imagine.
[15:31:17] Andrew Osis: because anyone can post anything
[15:31:24] Andrew Osis: so a competitor
[15:31:31] Andrew Osis: could go on and post very negative reviews
[15:31:39] Andrew Osis: and sink your ranking
[15:31:52] Andrew Osis: it needs careful consideration to provide a balanced view,
[15:32:07] Andrew Osis: that minimizes the chances of abuse
[15:32:09] Anna Leach: yes, moderation costs etc… do you have stats on number of users for your various apps?

[15:33:02] Andrew Osis: because we only launched on the android platform this past august we have less than 100,000 users there
[15:33:30] Andrew Osis: we launched in April on iphone, and that is has grown nicely in the US
[15:33:47] Andrew Osis: we will launch android and iphone for europe in the next 2-3 weeks
[15:34:06] Andrew Osis: blackberry is our largest user base with 3.6 million users

Anna Leach