HearPlanet - a geoWeb iPhone app worth a look

Bambi Francisco Roizen · December 15, 2009 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/c67

Vator Box guest host Mayfield Fund partner Raj Kapoor says HearPlanet is in a hot space

For those who're not familiar with Vator Box, it's our version of Siskel & Ebert meets American Idol. We take one company's video pitch and put it in front of a guest host and our VB regular Ezra Roizen, digital media investment banker, and myself. The three of us then analyze the company's prospects. And, in some cases, the guest host gets very excited about the company. 

That's what happened in this latest episode with our guest host, Raj Kapoor, managing director at Mayfield Fund, a high-profile Silicon Valley venture firm. The company we looked at? HearPlanet, which lets a user retrieve information about the world around them. The content is mostly historical and educational content about points of interest hot spots. Think Lonely Planet on the go. HearPlanet was one of the 10 winners of the JuicePitcher competition and has also been downloaded half a million times on the iPhone.

Here are our observations:

- CEO and founder Steven Echtman grabbed the viewer right off the bat with a compelling video that captured our attention.

- There is a 'discovery' aspect about the service that gives it a Microsoft Bing appeal. 

- HearPlanet is in a hot space. It's one of the many companies targeting the "geoWeb" - an emerging term describing technology that allows content to be geographically referenced. Another catchphrase these days is "augmented reality," which refers to making  information accessible to you in the context of your location and in real time. HearPlanet is also part of this wave of new companies trying to deliver augmented reality. Essentially, HearPlanet is in a hot category. But it's also a crowded one with a number of competitors vying to provide relevant and personal information on the go. Some on Vator include Aloqa, Aha Mobile, Spreezio, Loopt and Siri

- HearPlanet should focus on delivering quality content. It shouldn't focus on a volume approach by aggregating information from users because the risk of turning off users with low quality content may be greater than the opportunity to amass quality content.

- Should HearPlanet go for quality content, it can raise its prices. It should then focus on impulse purchases to those traveling, who're likely to pay $4 vs. $1k  to get information about a tourist attraction. 

- HearPlanet may reduce its cost of producing content by focusing on certain geographies and really nailing those places to build a nice user experience around those areas. 

- HearPlanet will be challenged (like all iPhone app developers) to win an audience on the app store, which has some 100,000 apps on its shelves. The other challenge is distribution off of the app store. 

Be sure to follow HearPlanet by clicking the "follow HearPlanet" link below.

  Follow HearPlanet on Vator.tv

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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Aloqa has solved two problems for mobile users: it takes away the need to type search terms into browsers or other mobile applications to find something, and also proactively recommends interesting local opportunities to users on the go. Wherever they are, users can simply glance at their phones and see which friends, favorite businesses, events like music concerts, local offers and other interesting places are close by, without having to launch a browser or search application. Aloqa takes into account the user’s location, preferences and social relationships to make these recommendations in real time.


“Aloqa makes mobile phones a lot more useful. As a user, it’s painful launching browsers and typing or speaking into apps. And even if doing searches becomes easier on mobile, it still doesn’t solve a bigger issue – every day all of us miss out on all kinds of opportunities we aren’t even aware of such as discovering friends who happen to be close by, or that there are concerts happening locally that we’d like, or sales and bargains all around us. Aloqa solves both the search and discovery issues by utilizing a user’s context – their location, time, preferences, and relationships – to notify them in real time of friends, places, events, and entertainment opportunities around them without delays” said Sanjeev Agrawal, CEO of Aloqa. 


About Aloqa

Aloqa is the first company to provide mobile users with context relevant alerts and notifications. Based on their location, preferences and social relationships, Aloqa users see what’s close to them without having to type anything into a browser or search application: their favorite businesses and points of interest, deals / coupons nearby, music performances and events, and Facebook friends in proximity. As they move, Aloqa refreshes automatically, so users never miss a social opportunity, event, or bargain.


PLEASE NOTE: On July 16, Aloqa (www.aloqa.com) announced  that it closed $1.5 million in series-A funding and opened a beta of its context-aware mobile application on Android handsets. Aloqa was also selected to demonstrate its application on stage at the MobileBeat Conference, hosted by VentureBeat in San Francisco, and was chosen as a "Winner of Tesla Award" -- The people's choice award at mobilebeat. 

Aloqa has also received some glowing coverage and comments in TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, AndroidGuys and others. Seel:

Aha Mobile, Inc.


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The Aha experience starts on your phone with the app. Easily access and organize your favorite content from the web into personalized, live, on-demand stations. Then take them with you wherever you go.



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SpreezioTM is a mobile/web-based shopping company that specializes in driving consumers to local merchants, service providers, and retail sales reps.  Think of us as Priceline on steroids enabling shoppers to make a coupon for almost any product or service!  We accomplish this through unique real-time purchase requests sent from a consumer's Smartphone/PC to businesses, which ensure that customers get the best possible local deals.



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HearPlanet turns your cell phone into an audio guide to the world.

Get iPhone App Here: www.HearPlanet.com/appstore

Get Android App Here: http://bit.ly/hpandroidapp


We provide an immersive experience that connects you to your surroundings and delivers information in a way that doesn’t distract or slow you down.

HearPlanet organizes information from a multitude of sources and delivers it in audio format, making it easy to consume when active and mobile.

600,000 users have installed the HearPlanet iPhone/iPod Touch application and we cover 300,000 locations worldwide. We organize vast amounts of content from numerous sources and instantly deliver what’s most relevant to users. HearPlanet tells you what’s right around (using geolocation) and offers comprehensive search for everything else.

Apple has featured HearPlanet in national iPhone ads including full-page spreads in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

“Like having a tour guide in your pocket..."  National Geographic Adventure

"The best kind of travel guide – one that requires no reading…”  United Airlines

“If you like to go sight-seeing when you travel then you’ll love HearPlanet.”  Salon.com

“Get the scoop on landmarks, historic sites and more - in countless cities worldwide - without taking your eyes off the sights.” Apple Ad Campaign





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Siri is a Virtual Personal Assistant - a new way to interact with the Internet on your mobile phone.  Like a real assistant, Siri helps you get things done.  You interact with Siri by just saying, in your own words, what you want to do.  You can ask Siri to find a romantic place for dinner, and get reservations for Saturday night.  You can discover things to do over the weekend, get tickets to the movies, or call a cab when you’re out on the town.  You don't have to search through a bunch of web pages, following links and hunting down facts.  Siri does all the work giving you the information you need at your fingertips.


We believe that in five years most people who use the Internet will have a Virtual Personal Assistant (VPA) to take care of the details of using online services.  We will look back at the birth of VPAs in 2009 and wonder how we ever got by without our trusted assistant.  The days of wading through links and pages from your mobile interface will seem quaint, because the natural way to interact with the rich world of information and services is to have a conversation.  As John Batelle, the author of The Search, says "The future of search is a conversation with someone we trust."


Rajil Kapoor

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Chief Strategy Officer at Lyft & Head AV Business, former CEO/cofounder of Fitmob & Snapfish, former MD at Mayfield Fund

Steven Echtman

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Founded or helped found 4 tech oriented companies. Worked in all aspects of operations, product definition/development, UI/UX, marketing and more. Projects include mobile, web, cloud, SaaS, IoT, consumer (B-C), enterprise (B-B), etc.

Ezra Roizen

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Advisor-to and commenter-on emerging ventures