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ToFlog.com: An Online Geo Social Network where Users can Pin any Place in the World, Write a Comment about it and Share it

http://www.toflog.com

Flog is a new geo social network.

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We had a lengthy and interesting interview with Mr. ‘Stefano Iannarone‘; Co-Founder of the Italy (Milan)-based start-up “Flog”.

“Flog” is a new geo social network. Below, is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. ‘Iannarone’ regarding his start-up “Flog”;

1. What is it exactly that you do and what “Flog” is all about?

Flog is a new geo social network. Users will be able to find a place in the world with Google Map, go inside Street View (where Street View is not available, they can use Google Map as well), put a marker, select one emotion they feel for that place, write a comment and share it with all people (public) or just to one ot more friends (private).

Other users can look his marker and leave a comment. Moreover there are all classic features of social network like send messages, ask friendship and so on.

2. When has “Flog” been founded? And what stage is “Flog” currently at?

Flog has been launched on November 2011. We are still in beta version, in bug fixing. We have also other ideas still to develop in Flog. We started to work about one year and half ago.

In this moment, there’re all main features as find a place in the world, go into Street View, put marker, leave a comment, share it, send messages to friends, ask friendships and so on.


3. What is “Flog”’s business model and how does it work?

Service and registration is completely free. Users can login using GMail, Facebook, Yahoo and Mail.ru account. We don’t use and will never use any kind of banners. Business model will be in next release, with geo marketing.

Users with shops will be able to add flogs writing some promotions. Users can be informed about promotions.

4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?

There’re two people in our team. 

Stefano Iannarone co-founder is following everything about server side development, dataBase and css.

Gianluigi Coviello co-founder is following client-side development.

Another guy started to develop mobile application which will be soon ready as alpha version on Android devices.

5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?

Social Networks are usually made to communicate, between friends known in real life. With Flog, you can have new friends just because you shared emotions for the same place.

The main idea is to reach most of all two kind of customers. People who want to share their emotions about a place and people who has his activity (like hotel or restaurant and so on) and want to make advertising.

6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “Flog” achieved so far?

In this moment we have about 100 users and 60 flogs. We’re increasing day by day. Some people is sharing places where he has been, uploading also images and sharing it with everyone. 

Few people have put a flog in his shop and hotel, leaving a description and sharing it in facebook and Google Plus. That’s one more feature of Flog.

7. Who are your competitors? And what is “Flog”’s competitive advantage over them?

Till now, we didn’t find any competitor which allows you to put a marker wherever you want inside Street View.

The power of Flog is to give to people a real experience, using Street View.

In this way you can really share something more real. It’s not just in a map. You can easily locate buildings inside Street View.

8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?

The most difficult obstacle is marketing. How to make advertising of our product. First of all we published alpha version and we closed registration just to friends.

We solved some bugs they found and we improved some features. We added also something new that users wanted in Flog. We’re steadily looking for feedbacks from our customers.

9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?

Flog can be used from everyone. Some people can write a comment about a place they liked. Someone else can use Flog to make advertising of their place (like clubs, restaurant, hotel and so on…).

I think it’s something great to give possibility to people to speak about nice places in the world.

Moreover if you want to visit a place, you can see comments and pictures left from other users.

10. Why are you going to succeed?

Because there’s still nothing like that and we were working very hard to do it. Was not very easy to work with Google Map and Street View API.

It’s something new, something different from other kind of social networks. It’s something more real, it’s a way to share your own emotions for a place you visited or you want to visit

11. If “Flog” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?

We’re now thinking about a new (still secret) feature. Anyway everyone who has an activity can make advertising in Flog.

People can also put their comment on hotels, clubs, restaurants and so on. It’s something different from other websites, because you can see in real (inside street view), where’s that place.

12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “Flog” based on?

We started with this idea about 1 year and half ago. We believed that in future, everybody wanna speak about something which can be also geo-localized.

For people is not enough now just to speak with people, or share pictures. People wanna also know where other users have been, what they think about places and wanna also share their places.

13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?

I learned that marketing is very hard. How to make advertising and so on. We spent lot of time to develop our idea. 

We changed many things because of users’ feedbacks. Now i think our website is ready to be used from everyone, but the most difficult now is to let people know about us. And we want to do it in a good way, following our users and giving all support they need.

14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?

If we’ll get more users, we should check how will be our performance. For now it’s like to see how many people are interested in our idea. Later, if we’ll increase number of users, we’ll probably have to change our servers and take something more powerful. We would like most of all let US and Russian people try our website.

15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?

People can share their emotions about places and find people who likes the same places. You can also look what people think about a place you dream to visit. You can see real pictures that other people upload.

You can also leave your comments, ask question about that place. Maybe could be a place you are going to visit soon and you would like to have suggestions from people who lives there.

16. How did customers/users find out about you?

We made advertising with AdWords, Facebook and also some blogs already wrote about us.

In Flog there’s also possibility to share your place in Facebook and Google Plus. We think that people can also know about us from user to other.

People can also send invitation to join Flog, just writing email of friends.

17. Who are your current customers/users? Who are your target customers/users?

Flog is for everyone. Everyone who feels something about a place. Can be people who visited a place, people who dream to visit a place, people who is going to visit a place or people who wanna make advertising for his place.

There’s not a specific target. All users older than 13 years old can use Flog.

18. Where do new customers/users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?

New customers can be people who have an activity and want to make advertising or people who likes to travel all around the world. There are many blogs about travels.

But none is so accurate as Flog, where you can put your marker exactly on building, beach, monument or something else you want to speak about.

19. What do your customers/users say about your product and/or service?

Customers are satisfied about Flog. We are constantly reading feedbacks and modify Flog to have customer satisfaction. We care also alot about privacy of our users. People can also look profile of users.

Users are also able to upload personal pictures on their profile. When you create your profile, as default it’s private (none can see your details). 

It’s up to the user to change it in “public” (everyone can read your details and see your pictures) or in “just friends” mode.

20. How are you going to scale?

Most of all we need people to know about us. We’ve many italian users but we want also people from other countries. We would like to see people speaking about beautiful places in the world, sharing their emotions, sharing their thoughts.

Also we would like to help people making advertising of their shop, hotel and so on.

21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?

Sometimes people tell us to improve user interface. It’s quite simple. But Flog has many features and we decide to make user interface as simple as we could. We didn’t make anything extraordinary as usual interface.

It should be intuitive, clean and clear. Maybe it’s not very nice to see, but very easy to use.

22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?

Flog is now in english. We’re going to internationalize it as soon as possible. We will start to put more languages soon, like Italian and Russian first of all.

There will be automatic detection of spoken language, but users will be also able to change his own language from profile menu. In this way, also who doesn’t speak english, will be able to use Flog.

23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?

I think everybody in the world would be satisfied to use Flog. We’d like to reach US and Russian people most of all. 

That’s why we integrated Flog also with Mail.ru account using Openid. 

I think that i will be very satisfied if one hundred thousands people will be using Flog. 

Most of all, i would like to see people which doesn’t know each others, speaking about the same passion.

24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?

We are thinking to hire when we will be sure we have a successfull product. 

We are already working to put Flog also on mobile devices. If Flog will be successfull, we will need someone who can develop on IOS and Android, who can take care about user interface, who can develop server/client side.

We would need also someone who can follow us in marketing strategy as well.

25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?

Would be very nice to have partnership or fundings. We have many other ideas to apply. Some of them are really something great.

We can speak about other ideas we have to improve Flog, with everyone who is interested in our product.

People can contact us on our email info@toflog.com or we can give them our phone contact if they would live to speak to us over the phone.

26. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Flog, Feel, Log and Share. People can share everything to everyone or just to friends. What we care alot is privacy. What you share as private will be never showed to other people.

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