“SerFinda, SerFinda, on my Facebook wall, how do I become the fairest of them all?” Dodgy haircuts seem to be a routine occurrence in many lives, but Berlin-based SerFinda has launched a new app designed to help users avoid makeover disasters through friend recommendations.
Currently only for Berlin health and beauty business searches, the team behind the startup told Silicon Allee that they want it to become the “social directory for everybody on Facebook.” The work of co-founders Mike Bild and Ulf Pralle, the app has so far attracted around 2,000 monthly active users, with 13,000 fans on Facebook.
Co-founder Ulf Pralle said: “When I moved to Berlin I was searching for a long time for some local services. I always ended up using the recommendations of local people I trusted – friends or colleagues.” This eventually planted the seed of an idea in his head which eventually became SerFina.
The fledgling startup took part in the Founder Institute program as its team was built up and the platform was eventually launched in June, with funding from undisclosed business angels.
The SerFinda algorithm pulls information from Facebook. If you were to search for a spa, you would be shown one which had previously received good reviews from FB friends. If there are none, the search engine falls back on your demographic’s recommendations. As with all such services, the more users there are, the more effective the engine becomes.
Review services, however, tend to be a bit hit and miss, and there is no guarantee that you won’t leave a recommended salon with lipstick on your teeth. But by using trusted recommendations from friends, SerFinda hopes to compete with the big boys. The key seems likely to be getting off the ground in the first place to generate enough interest in the app.
“At the moment SerFinda does serve beauty and wellness only in Berlin. For this we are doing the public beta proof of concept. But this is scalable to other categories and locations.”
As the field widens, there is a lot of competition. Google for instance, is currently aiming to become the destination of choice. The Internet giant recently bought the travel guide Frommer’s after acquiring Zagat Survey, an online search directory for restaurants, last year.
Starting in a relative niche, SerFinda is hoping to appeal in a way anonymous reviews in vast directories do not. “We are focusing on product enhancements with the market feedback we get from users and service providers,” Ulf added, but in the long term, “our vision is, that everybody can easily find what they need.”