Assisted Serendipity solves the problem of finding a venue where the ratio of guys/girls is in your favor. By looking at recent check-in data, you can tell when the ratio “tips” and Assisted Serendipity will email or text you with the news, and with pictures of the recently checked in people. This is an idea that just makes sense when you hear the pitch, and is one of the better ideas I have heard that is built on top of the Foursquare API. There are a few problems though that I would like to think about that could change this from being a funny app into something that is useful and has the potential for revenue.
1) Data - There simply is not enough data on Foursquare now to make the service useful (knowing that 2 Girls and 1 Guy are at a venue is clearly not indicative of the actual ratio). You need enough people checking in (or providing the information about the ratio themselves) to make it useful. Facebook’s announcement of their Places API will hopefully solve some of these problems (anyone know how to get an invite to the beta for search/write?). The key element of their API is the ability to tag friends, a smart way of letting the top 10% of power users aid in providing the data that is needed for applications like these to reach their potential. You can also have Assisted Serendipity users provide the data themselves about the venue.
2) Process & Timing - Alerts at 6AM that the ratio has tipped is probably too late for anyone to actually use. It also isn’t the right process for this kind of thing. A pull model for the information is more effective than push in this scenario, as the decision to go out is made before deciding on the venue. Also, the kind of person who would make a decision about where to go based on the ratio would be one who is likely to try a new venue. So creating a list of alerts to the places they already know about isn’t helpful. Instead I would rather open up an app when I am deciding where to go out and see which places are “trending” right now towards ratios that are good for me. If this was location based (meaning specific to your GPS location), even better, but initially they can just export a list of venues by city. If there is not enough current data to make a valuable suggestion, use historical data (if they let you) and create an aggregate score from all the previous nights.
3) Added Value - There can be more value added than just knowing the ratio at the venue. Information about the club/bar is also important (try showing up to 1Oak without girls and see if you get in). Dress code, drink specials, music type, best nights to go on, etc are all part of the decision making process, and a great opportunity as there are no good curated guides to clubs on the web right now (lightbulb!).
4) Partnerships and Revenue - If Assisted Serendipity can get the users, there are many ways to monetize. A few off the top are:
A) Promoted Venues/Events - The main value proposition now is your ability to help in the decision making process of club going. Venues would love to be able to pay to get into the conversation to get some of those users going to their venues. Giving them tools to promote events and specials would be a simple way of getting revenue.
B) Selling Drinks - A perfect partnership would be with Ben Fisher’s Urban Pregame which allows you to use the collective buying power of you and your friends to buy drinks at a bar before you get there. Decide where you want to go + buy drinks now that you decided + ??? = Profitz
C) Additional Club Services - Being an affiliate for all the complimentary services that go along with going to a bar or club (taxi/limo service, bottle/table service, entry tickets etc).
All of this ties in a bit with a project I am working on called PlayerText. Look forward to seeing how Assisted Serendipity evolves. Add more ideas in the comments.