Judys Book, a Seattle-based startup, gets plugged today in John Cook’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer column. The pitch is the following: Finding qualified mechanics, dentists, house painters and other tradespeople isn’t easy, especially for newcomers to a city. Judys Book will combine social networking notions — recommendations, reviews, friends-of-friends, etc. — with locality-specific features to end up with a site that can help you find good doctors/lawyers/painters/plumbers/opthalmologists/etc.
That is fair enough, as far as it goes. Those are real problems, and they are ones I would happily have solved. We just finished replacing about fifteen windows in our place, including some that required construction work –finding contractors was easy; figuring out who was good was a giant pain. Similarly, I needed a new opthalmologist recently, and we have an embarassment of such folks here in San Diego. But which one to choose? Who is good?
So let’s take it as given that there is a real need. And what’s more, let’s take it as given that having people somehow connected to you doing the recommending is worth more to you than having people you don’t know doing it. (I’m a little less convinced of that one.)
But can you make money? As Cook rightly points out, Judys Book — named after a little book of favored tradespeople kept by a founder’s landlord mother-in-law — is more than a little reminiscent of the dearly-departed Imandi.com, a site that sucked in $35-million in venture capital before unceremoniously expiring a few years back.
The folks behind Judys Book think they’re different, of course. They think they can make the site profitable through … wait for it … advertising. Yes indeed, Judys Book will be free to users but will show ads from local advertisers. Shades of 1999, of course, and a real flyer for the folks from Ignition et al., who have agreed to put $2.5-million into the startup.
Will Judys Books follow Servicemagic and end up being acquired by IAC? Or is it just the second coming of Imandi? I tend to think the latter, but I’m open to contrary views. Meanwhile, anyone know any good opthalmologists in the 92037 zip?