eHub Interviews Brightkite

Posted by Bryan Collick on Thursday, August 7th, 2008. Filed under: eHub Interviews

Thanks to Brady Becker and Martin May of Brightkite for the physical tour as well as this email interview.

eHub: What is your web application/service about?

Brightkite: Brightkite is a location-based social network that enables people to take their online profiles with them into the real world and make real-world friends. In real-time, users can see where their friends are and what they’re up to all while maintaining comprehensive degrees of privacy to non-friends. Depending on a user’s privacy setting they can also be open to meeting others nearby.

In addition, Brightkite allows users to explore social communities around their favorite venue, restaurant, park, etc… Users can explore who is there, who was there, what they are saying, photos they are posting, etc. Brightkite is creating mobile social communities based on where you are and who you are.

eHub: Why did you start this project?

imageBrightkite: This project grew out of a desire to create social communities based the locations people frequent. Both of us found our social network profiles junked up with “friends” that we would never have the opportunity to meet in real life.  We wanted to meet new people not Facebook-to-Myspace, but face-to-face.  Our goal was to bring social networking back into the real world.

Some philosophy on this here and here in our blog.

eHub: How much time do you devote to its growth?  Do you have a day job?

Brightkite: We quit our day jobs when we were accepted into Techstars for the summer 07 program. Brightkite is our day job now.

eHub: How large is your team and what are your backgrounds?

imageBrightkite: It was just the two of us until about 3 months ago when we launched into our invite only public beta.  Now we are a team of 5. We believe in keeping the team small and efficient. Our size gives us the ability to turn on a dime, iterate quickly, and dedicate extraordinary attention to one feature or issue at a time.

We both come from a product focused local search background.

This is also may be a good time to mention that we are hiring ;)
Systems Administrator
Ruby on Rails Technical Lead

eHub: What is your design philosophy?

Brightkite: We keep it simple. We keep it useable and useful. We listen to our users. We scratch our own itch.

eHub: What technologies are you currently using?

Brightkite: Ruby on Rails & Java

eHub: If your project is live, what are the most requested features from your users/community?

Brightkite: Brightkite is currently in private beta.  The biggest request right now is to release our native iPhone application.

eHub: Does your user base reside in a primary geographic location or is it distributed?

Brightkite: Brightkite works worldwide and we have users all over the globe.  We do however see concentrations in most large US cities. Internationally we see concentrations in the UK, Australia and France.

eHub: Where do you see the project heading in the next 6 months?  The next 2 years?

Brightkite: Over the next 6 months we will open Brightkite up to the public, our API will launch out of beta, and hopefully we start to see the community create some neat things with our API.  Expect to see native support for more mobile clients and the emergence of some desktop clients.

Over the next 2 years… Its really hard to predict. We tend to iterate very quickly and our targets are always moving. One guarantee, Brightkite will continue to evolve and will look much different 2 years from now than it does today.

eHub: What is the greatest challenge to your success?

Brightkite: Educating users. A lot of the concepts related to personal location and localized social networking are pretty new.

eHub: What is the one thing you need to get to the next phase of the project?

Brightkite: As with most social networks, we face the chicken and egg problem.  To get to the next phase we need a critical mass of users.  We have a strategy to crack that egg.

eHub: Do you have a business model?  If so, what is it?

Brightkite: Surprisingly we are a startup with a business model ;) There are a few different ways we plan to monetize Brightkite.

- The lowest hanging fruit is location based advertising. Many LBS services plan to monetize this way including us.
- The less obvious one is business metrics. On a high level, think of it as web analytics for real world locations.
- We have a few other revenue streams but are not disclosing them quite yet.

eHub: If you’re able to disclose this information, how much traffic or usage do you see on an average day?

Brightkite: Its our policy to not disclose traffic or usage information. We can say the invite-only beta is going far better than we ever expected.

eHub: What is the one thing you’re most proud of about the project?

Brightkite: The fact that we have gotten this far with a very small team.

eHub: What site(s) do you visit everyday other than your own?

Brightkite: A lot, it would be hard to list them all.

eHub: How many hours of sleep do you get a night? :)

Brightkite: Funny you ask. Our umbrella company for Brightkite is actually called No Sleep Media… it’s all in the name :)

Thanks to Brady Becker and Martin May of Brightkite for the physical tour as well as this email interview.

Visit Brightkite
Originally added to eHub on Apr 15, 08