Have you ever wished you could ask a local where to find the cheapest haircut in the city? Or the most delicious fast food?
Short-form for “ask a local,” Askalo is an up and coming startup developing a local-based Q&A community, where users can ask the locals questions to get the inside scoop on their city.
The service is really simple to use. Displayed prominently on the site homepage is a large search bar, where users can ask any question they want. If there are already similar questions on the site, the user will be taken to that question’s page. Otherwise, the user can post the question on the site.
When posting a question, users can add a longer description to provide extra detail, type in a city to ensure the answers are tailored to a specific area, select a category and enter tags. Users even have the option of adding a photo if it is useful in asking the question.
Probably one of the coolest thing about Askalo is the rewards system, which is actually somewhat similar to a system on Yahoo! Answers. Users can earn points for all kinds of tasks, like answering or asking questions, and different levels and rewards are granted based on certain achievements, like for many answers given.
Askalo is just one of three Web applications developed by Yalwa. The first, called Yalwa, is a free local business directory. The second, Locanto, offers classified ads (along the lines of Craigslist). Askalo is the third.
The Q/A site first launched in July in its base country, Germany, before expanding in August to 37 other countries, including the U.S. It now serves over 1600 cities.
Of course, Askalo is not without stiff competition.
Q&A has a long history on the Web, considering that in 1996 Ask Jeeves was one of if not the first Web services to encourage users to ask questions in natural language. Eventually, the site became Ask.com and turned its focus to ordinary search, until this past summer when the site flip flopped back to its original focus. So not only does Askalo have Ask.com to deal with, but a bunch of other startups, like Quora and Google-owned Aardvark, are also looking to be leading Q&A sites.
In the location space, not only are there quickly-growing startup companies like Foursquare, and Gowalla, but even some of the Web’s households brands--Facebook, Google, Yelp--are beginning to offer location features like check-ins and local business deals a la Groupon.
Askalo’s strength lies in the fact that it has picked a niche, the precise cross-section between local and Q&A. Often a company will try to do too much and overextend itself, instead of focusing on one goal. While it’s true that Askalo has already expanded to many countries, its mission remains the same across the board: provide a fun platform where users can ask the locals anything.
Though Askalo is not currently funded, it receives financial support from ad revenue on both Yalwa and Locanto.
Check out the video below to see Askalo in action.