One thing we’ve learned from companies that attempt to build businesses around news, social interaction, and commerce on a hyperlocal level is that it ain’t easy. There is a graveyard of companies that have tried it.
One of the primary challenges is creating a level of consistency and standards across so many inherently disparate neighborhood sites. How do you ensure even quality, engagement levels, and monetization? This is where NextDoor has defied gravity and is gaining lots of traction where others have failed.
So what’s the company’s secret? There are lots of little things, according to NextDoor co-founder and chief architect Prakash Janakiraman, whom we recently interviewed on stage. The interview is also featured as the latest episode of Street Fight’s Heard on the Street Podcast (embedded above).
One of the imperatives for fledgling sites with hyperlocal aspirations that Janakiraman points to is dedicated focus on neighbor-to-neighbor communications and engagement. Though not as big or culturally embedded as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, NextDoor is exclusively devoted to local community interaction.
Growing over 100% year over year, Nextdoor serves as a “trusted communications platform” for people who want to keep in touch with those nearby. The most popular topic of conversation is recommendations for local service providers and restaurants. To that end, Nextdoor has launched a new recommendations product that has already seen 17 million recommendations pop up across the country.
“This could be a resource to people all over the world about what the best businesses are,” Janakiraman said.
Nextdoor is 18 months into its first monetization “experiment”: sponsored posts like those one can find on the Facebook news feed. Businesses, many of which are already generating chatter among Nextdoor’s geographically connected users, can expand on that “natural synergy” by buying posts that allow them to send curated messages to users.
Check out the full episode above, which also includes a discussion of local news and other ways NextDoor is building a business around hyperlocal news, interaction, and commerce where so many others have failed. Find out more about Heard on the Street here, and stay tuned for episodes every two weeks.
Mike Boland is Street Fight’s lead analyst, author of the Road Map column, and producer of the Heard on the Street podcast. He covers AR & VR as chief analyst of ARtillry Intelligence and SF President of the VR/AR Association. He has been an analyst in the local space since 2005, covering mobile, social, and emerging tech.