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Union Square Ventures partner Fred Wilson keynoted today’s Geo-Loco conference in San Francisco, sharing his thoughts on what technologies and business models excite him from an investment perspective.

The wide-ranging presentation ended on the idea of monetizing location-based services like Foursquare, where he has invested (twice). He carried the same “no brainer” attitude toward the monetization potential that we keep hearing, involving SMBs that will clamor for the ability to see who is near their location and drive them in with various promotions.

“The revenue models are fairly straightforward,” he said. “Knowing where someone is in real time right now, is an incredibly valuable marketing opportunity. It’s the holy grail for merchants to know someone is nearby and give them an offer or coupon; they are highly incented to do so.”

But it was refreshing to hear his acknowledgment, though brief, about the realistic challenges to get there, something that’s been largely missing from the conversation in public venues like this.

“It will take a lot of technology and sales and marketing efforts,” he said. “There will be resellers and intermediaries to take these services to small businesses.”

fred wilson

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Isn’t it funny that’s it’s “refreshing” for a VC (even Fred Wilson!) to discuss the “sales challenges” and need for “intermediaries” inherent in local marketing?

    With a landscape of location services, loyalty companies, social media marketing apps, email marketers, and ad infinitum, we know the business owner is getting increasingly bombarded with novel technologies that often need a person and integration functionality to a POS or back-end CRM/accounting system.

    Unfortunately, the majority of providers have neither – yet. So our company, is launching the needed “wrap-around” functionalities, systems, and people-processes to enable true scale.

    I guess at the end of the day, one really needs to be in-market to see the challenges associated with large scale adoption. As much as I love the promise of check-ins, rewarding one mayor out of ten thousand customers with a free drink isn’t a loyalty program – yet.


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