Inspired by Facebook Groups like Hip Antioch, Hip Mt.Juliet, Hip Nashville, Atlanta Local, New York Metro Local and many others! I wanted to have a quicker and easier way to learn about information within MY local community and be able to trust what I'm told. A place where locals have power to speak freely about the local businesses, organizations, events, etc, and have this information readily stored to access anytime I NEED it, instead of waiting 10-30 minutes on tags from a Facebook Recommendation or sifting through review sites. We use the term "Did You Know That?" in conversation with family and friends everyday when discussing local brands in our community. I wanted to put that term to good use digitally. I got the idea of Nodat after I missed the opportunity to experience the new water park that opened in our city during the summer. I felt someone should have talked about it on social media to let others know! My idea developed further after reading a post in one of the Facebook Groups (Hip Mt.Juliet) of a local user who had previously asked for a Facebook Recommendation for a contractor to help reconstruct his mother's house. He received 89 recommendation tags and randomly chose one. Well, he was taken for a $2500 deposit after meeting with the contractor and agreeing to do business. The contractor left town. He tried to contact the person who tagged the contractors name but no such luck. Members of the Facebook Group shared the post in hopes someone would come forward and help find the thief. That's when I knew that video recommendations/vouch videos would better benefit the local community as well when seeking recommendations from their peers.

What it does

  • Allows locals to get recommendations from family, friends, or neighbors in the community anytime they want. For example, if I wanted to know what photographer my neighbor used for her daughters wedding, I could type her name into the "People" section of Nodat to view all of my neighbors video and photo recommendations, allowing me to get a quick recommendation without having to send a text or make a phone call. Real recommendations from people I know and trust quickly and anytime I need them.
  • Makes advertising engaging and relevant for both brands and consumers by making the customer a part of the advertising and marketing process through action-based incentives and user-generated content.
  • Empowers locals to tell and share the story of their city by their experiences with local brands through video.
  • Gives businesses more control over their advertising.
    Through a self-serve back-end that offers features that helps brands connect and engage directly to users.
  • Provides the best option for relevant local information by replacing written reviews and recommendations with real customer conversations through videos.
    • Serves as a vouching system for business owners and freelancers.
      Our favorite benefit! New business owners and freelancers need someone to vouch for their services. The video reviews/recommendations stored in the app will do just that.
  • Increases local brand awareness and loyalty through "Community-Based Marketing."
    It's like we are building a Facebook Group app that is dedicated to the locals of a specific community where everyone benefits. Local brands create exclusive deals, offers, and perks that are housed in our in-app community coupon store as incentives for members of that community to help advertise and market local brands in that city. Locals earn points for every action they perform that helps spread the word about a brand or local event and spends those points to redeem offers from the community coupon store. A group that gives a community access to retrieve real and relevant local information quickly without having to spend countless amounts of time calling, texting family and friends, waiting for the recommendations to flow into their news feed, or having to spend time shuffling through irrelevant ads or results on Google. Now, a mom can surprise her daughter and take her to dinner by typing her name into Nodat to see the video recommendations and pictures that she has reviewed to find out what she likes. Or if someone is planning to move to a new city and needed to choose a new dentist, daycare, hair stylist, etc, she could be more proactive and search those categories for that city and scroll through the video recommendations created by real local customers and make a more informed choice before she even makes the move. Making her transition to a new city easier. This is also a great feature for college students who move away from home. It's like having a safety guide that also offers them a way to save money right in their pocket.
  • Provides consistent marketing messaging capability for local advertisers. In the future our goal is for Local brands to have the ability to create an exclusive perk, coupon, or offer for the Nodat Community Coupon Store to compliment a Facebook ad to help increase ad engagement and conversion rates and also have the ability to run the ad through Nodat simultaneously. Helping local advertisers advertise with confidence and finally get the results they see larger national brands achieve when advertising on Facebook.

How we built it

  • iPhone App: Native app in Swift 4.0**
  • Android App: Native app in Java**
  • Website: Angular JS, PHP, MySQL**
  • Admin Panel: Angular JS, PHP, MySQL**

Challenges we ran into

When we first launched we launched in fifteen cities and we realized that was too big of footprint to pilot. So, we pulled back and focused our efforts on one market, Nashville, TN. We wanted to build a feature that allowed users to check-in and send invites to their friends on Facebook but the API didn't allow it. We also wanted to allow users share their Nodat point status on their newsfeed but the Facebook api didn't allow third-party apps to post to users pages.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud to have developed such an idea and concept and to have launched our first phase. We are proud of the number users we have in Nashville. We are proud to have been accepted into a startup incubator at the as well being accepted into the Facebook Start Bootstrap Program. We are proud of the growth on our social media channels and the feedback from our users. We are proud to have been noticed and spotlighted by our local CBS Channel 5 news.

What we learned

During our first phase we learned how not to promote and market an app. We learned that instead of looking at Nodat as just an app we should look at and treat it like a business. When we first started, we did not fully understand what we were building. After much research and development we realized that Nodat is an engagement and customer data platform with the potential to become the go-to platform for everything local. We learned why consumers love Facebook recommendations and Facebook Groups. They would rather get real responses and relevant opinions from the people who live in their community over any other kind of unearned media. We also learned that they are looking for faster ways to get that kind of information. We learned who we are and what we are not. We learned that we are passionate about helping local businesses connect with the people in their community and helping them increase their visibility, awareness, and chances of being successful. By watching the interaction in the Facebook groups we learned that consumers want to help these local businesses in their advertising efforts and are more likely to talk about a business or share their content if there is something of value in it for them.

What's next for Nodat

  • Continue development We will build more advanced features into the sub-admin customer data platform for local business owners to use to learn more information about the customers they communicate with through our app to improve and personalize push notification messages, coupons, perks videos, and ads. Improve app features, design, and performance by adding more features that help users connect with each other. Integrate with Facebook Ads Manager and monetization.
  • Create more local communities inside of the app We are currently building and promoting Nodat Nashville our goal is to have other local communities like Nodat Vegas, Nodat New York, Nodat Los Angeles_, etc.
  • Coin the term Nodat and make it an action word. We want everyone Nodat before hiring a contractor, visiting a restaurant, choosing a dentist, daycare, or stylist! Nodat will become an extension of Facebook. Businesses will use Nodat as a guide for casting their nets when fishing for new customers by tapping into their current customers personal friends & family networks when customers are rewarded for sharing their videos and pictures on Facebook & Twitter.
  • Fully develop and introduce our theory of "Community-based Marketing". We know that consumers hold all the power in this new age and we know that local businesses depend on their customers to spread the word for them to increase awareness within the community. We believe if businesses can get their customers to partner with them to help them grow it will put more power behind word of mouth marketing and create a new more effective concept called "Community-based Marketing."
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