Wednesday, April 21, 2010

BeNeighbor.ly: Now Increasing Karma

Whew! A lot has been happening with the BeNeighbor.ly team since we got off the bus.

Mark deserves this month's gold star, as he really grabbed the reins post-bus with keeping BeNeighbor.ly moving forward. He has a lot of passion around the idea of BeNeighbor.ly and since startups are all about action he decided to build a prototype quickly so people could start using it. Mark had the prototype up and running within days of getting back from Austin using Google App Engine.

The initial versions included features such as Twitter login to handle account creation, location-aware wishing using HTML5 and Google Maps, and the ability to vote for and comment on wishes. To make it easy for those who want to do something nice for someone, wishes can be viewed based on recentness, popularity, or even those wishes that are nearby. All content is posted directly to BeNeighbor.ly's Twitter account (http://www.twitter.com/beneighbor_ly) where people can link back to the BeNeighbor.ly site and join the discussion. Users that are logged in via Twitter can even post their wishes and comments to their own followers!

BeNeighbor.ly also includes the ability to send anonymous emails to the wisher 'Craigslist' style by creating an anonymous email address for each wish. Giving each wish an email address allows individuals to contact the wisher privately without compromising their privacy.

Once a wish is fulfilled, the wisher is able to tell the BeNeighbor.ly community their story either by logging in via Twitter or sending an email to their wish from the same email account that created it. If a wish is fulfilled it moves the wish to an archive where people can read the stories of how BeNeighbor.ly users are touching peoples lives.

In keeping with our community focus, we allow anyone to flag anything posted on our site. If a post is flagged, it is removed - no questions asked. This will allow the community to police itself by removing offensive or unnecessary commentary.

Wow, that was a lot to accomplish in one months time!

As the team started actively using the site we've been refining it almost daily. Now we're ready for more traffic! We are testing out SEO keywords and Facebook Ads to see how we can start driving more traffic to the site, conducting user interviews, and telling everyone we know to "make our day" and post something on the site.

With a working prototype under our belts, the team has the chance to take a step back and put more structure around the project moving forward. The remaining team members have committed to meeting and collaborating regularly and have started breaking down the effort into manageable chunks. This includes conducting both market and user research, creating use cases and user flows and figuring out how sponsorships from local businesses might work.

There's still a lot to be done, but we are excited to drive towards the goal of enabling a thriving and engaged Be Neighbor.ly community where people want and can do good.

Get involved! Go tell us "What would make your day?" at http://www.beneighbor.ly and follow @beneighbor_ly on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/beneighbor_ly) to watch the connections happen!

Cheers!

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