Localmind Acquired by Airbnb – Year One Labs has its First Exit

localmind logoToday, I’m pleased to announce that Localmind has been acquired by Airbnb.

See Techcrunch’s story and Airbnb’s blog post for more info.

Localmind was Year One Labs’ first investment, and it’s our first exit as well. It’s a fantastic day for the team: Lenny Rachitsky, Beau Haugh and Nelson Gauthier. They worked like crazy over the last couple of years to develop a platform and vision around how we will communicate, interact and share in a mobile + local + social world. They’ve pushed a lot of thinking in this space and will continue to do so as part of the Airbnb team.

If you’re not familiar with Airbnb, you should be. They’re killing it. The company announced in June that it had booked 10 million guest nights since it started in 2008. And recently, CEO Brian Chesky said that by December, Airbnb will be booking more rooms than all Hilton hotels combined. Their showing hockey stick curve growth with incredible potential and opportunity going forward.

I’ve written about Localmind a few times since I started working with them. Looking back on those posts is instructive of the progress and challenges they faced:

Like any startup, Localmind had its ups and downs. I learned a lot working with the team. I learned a lot from the experience of helping the company start with an idea, build a product, raise capital, scale and exit. I’m grateful for that. It was an incredible journey.

Lenny, Beau and Nelson now have an opportunity to make a bigger impact with a faster growing company on a ridiculously big scale. I have no doubt in my mind that they’ll be incredibly successful with Airbnb and with whatever they choose to do in the future.

Localmind 2.0 – Tapping into Real-Time, Local Knowledge with “Area Questions”

localmind logoLocalmind came out of Year One Labs (where I’m a Founding Partner.) They raised a seed round in July, 2011 after graduating from the accelerator. Since then they’ve been working on a lot of interesting stuff, and today they launched one of their biggest updates yet: Localmind 2.0.

Elevator pitch: Localmind allows you to tap into real-time, local knowledge by asking people (who are checked into locations) questions.

That’s how Localmind started. With the new release, they’ve expanded Localmind’s functionality and potential use cases significantly, based in large part on what they’ve learned from the community, and their overall, long-term vision for the company.

Localmind now allows you to ask “area questions” instead of targeting questions to specific people at specific locations. They found that a lot of questions people were trying to ask were in fact about areas and not specific places. People found someone at a specific place but then asked for broader recommendations about the area. Localmind now makes this a lot easier with area questions.

The team is also bubbling up some of the back-end expertise tech that they’ve been working on. They’ve put a lot of thought into how questions should be routed – who they should go to, why and when – and the app provides a cool UI and explanation for why people are receiving questions. This makes the experience friendlier and more social, without breaking into becoming another social network. I still value and appreciate Localmind’s focus on utility. Local expertise is tricky to assess and measure; Localmind’s taking a solid crack at it.

You can read more about Localmind 2.0 on their blog: Meet the New Localmind. And here’s a video they put together with some additional details:

Localmind 2.0 is the culmination of numerous iterations, testing and learning. That’s not going to stop either. The team is launching Localmind 2.0 with the intent of learning as much as possible, growing the user base and continuing to deliver a valuable and fun experience.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, download it on the App Store and give it a whirl.

Speaking at the Michigan Lean Startup Conference

I must say that I was very surprised when I was asked to speak at the Michigan Lean Startup Conference on May 17th.

The lineup includes some awesome speakers and Lean Startup / customer development experts: Steve Blank, Ash Maurya, Dan Martell, Brant Cooper, Patrick Vlaskovits, Dave Feinleib and Noah Kagan. And me…

What the hell am I going to talk about?

Honestly, I’m not sure. But I think I’ll end up focusing on Year One Labs and the experience of running a lean accelerator. I don’t think any of the other speakers have run an accelerator (yet!) so it gives me the chance to speak about something a bit different and take a different perspective on things.

According to Dan Martell, he had a fantastic time last year at the event, so I’m very much looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to learning a ton from some great entrepreneurs and meeting new people.

The conference is a 2-day event – with the main speaking portion on May 17th and a day-long workshop on the 18th. I’ll be there on the 18th as well for the workshop by Ash, Brant and Patrick (although not in any formal capacity, just hanging out, helping out where I can.)

If you’re planning on going to the event let me know. Now to dust off my Keynote skills…

Ben Yoskovitz
I'm VP Product at Codified (makers of VarageSale).

I'm also a Founding Partner at Year One Labs, an early stage accelerator in Montreal. Previously I founded Standout Jobs (and sold it).

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