Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We&Co: These Are The People In Your Neighborhood (Bar, Coffee Shop, Etc.)

Biggs is the editor of TechCrunch Gadgets. Biggs has written for the New York Times, InSync, USA Weekend, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Money and a number of other outlets on technology and wristwatches. He is the former editor-in-chief of Gizmodo.com and lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. You can Tweet him here and G+ him here. → Learn More

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Are you friends with your local barkeep, barista, or leather salesman? We&Co is a way to let them know you care. This iPhone app, launched on July 15, allows businesses to register their employees and then visitors can rate those employees (with an emphasis on positive criticism) and add them to your “favorite people” collection. Think of it as Yelp with considerably more granularity.

I suppose the question then is “Why?” Why use an app when you can thank them yourself? Well, presumably, the aggregate score will encourage others to frequent the employee’s place of business, thereby gaining them more tips and potential creepy stalkers. It also puts a name to the faces you see every day at your local eateries, drinkeries, and provisionaries.

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the small company’s technology is based on work by founder Marc Mathieu’s company, BeDo. You sign in with Twitter, Facebook, or a distinct We&Co account. The app picks up current locations (and employees) and allows you to add locations and employees to various locations. You then select the employee in question and give them a high five or whatever, virtually.

The system allows you to follow your favorite employees (bartenders, for example, or hair dressers) from location to location and employers could choose to reward you for your ratings.

As a misanthrope, I’m slightly unnerved at the idea of actively hunting down and thanking specific employees at a place of business and I would certainly rather thank them with a big tip than a button tap. That said, FSM bless these Southern kids for trying to put inject little kindness into the glum, soulless ritual of buying coffee or tires. I worry that this won’t get used often enough to warrant much of a glowing review, but as it stands the idea is solid and the app works, so high five, We&Co.

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