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Following the post on the verticalization of mobile search, I was able to talk to mobile search startup GoUAskMe.

Unlike the SMS based local search tools cited in that post, the company is trying to ride the growing wave of free directory assistance. Microsoft’s acquisition of Tellme and Google’s entrance to the space has shed mainstream light and exposure on the growing area, which has been beneficial to smaller players like this.

Back to the verticalization point, the company has an interesting model that seeks to brand itself as a go-to source for mobile search in certain vertical categories. But instead of focusing on one, it has picked a few categories to start (more will come) for which it partners with best of breed content providers.

For example, it provides voice automated search of home values (input requires an address) with data from Zillow; and traffic information from Other categories include gas prices and events information, which are each served up in a voice interface.

This serves to differentiate it from a typical DA call with extra types of content such as prices, in addition to address and phone number. This will have more relevance and more user appeal in different categories and the company is now testing the waters with the aforementioned category searches. Multimodal capability is in the pipeline as well as more categories, according to Sandip Shah , co-founder and CTO.

The company’s biggest challenges could be to brand itself and communicate a value proposition to a critical mass of users. This is an uphill battle for a new mobile search brand. But again, big deals by big players in the free DA space have pushed the idea out to a mainstream audience that dialing (and paying for) a carrier served 411 call should be a thing of the past.

This branding challenge will be a gating factor for GoUAskMe and other free DA startups, especially in an area where marketing a name (number) for memorization and cellphone storage, is paramount.

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