The Local Opportunity – elsewhere

6 Jun
2008

On my way to Argentina, I read an article in the airplane magazine about two guys who had created a restaurant review website for Buenos Aires.

Their website – Oleo – is a pretty decent website. Yet it is the only website I have found for restaurants in Buenos Aires. Hell – in the US I even found one for El Paso! How could a city with a population of over 12 million only have one website for restaurant info and reviews?!

And that barely scrapes the surface. Mapping here is horrible. Google doesn’t even have any of Argentina mapped. MSN and Yahoo both have parts mapped, but no geocoder. What good is a map without the damn geocoding to go with it?

If anything, being here has opened my eyes that the local opportunity, while (in ways) ‘easier’ in North America, is waiting to be exploited in other forgotten cities. Sure the spending power in BA isn’t all that great – but there are a ton of people, there are a metric ton of restaurants (very few chain stores here), and everyone is waiting to be swept away. Heck, that restaurant review site has 50,000 reviews for just Buenos Aires, without any major backing whatsoever.

Plus – the desire for local businesses to get online is strong. Everywhere I go I see xxx.com.ar – from hardware stores to restaurants to anything else in between. Most restaurants have some form of delivery. The largest ice cream (super popular and super tasty here) chain lets you order ice cream for delivery online! (imagine Baskin Robbins doing the same). But for every 10 restaurants, maybe 3 have websites, and only 1 have anything that is remotely useful (it is amazing how many restaurants here have an email link and that is it). And the demand is there – we’ve used two different sushi restaurants for delivery – one of them being Sushi Furusato (who also owns Sushi.com.ar). 400,000+ hits to the frontpage is nothing to sneeze at.

Incidentally geocoding is relatively easier to do here. Every single block constitutes ‘100’. So 220 Uruguay will be in the same block as 290 Uruguay. And 1030 Sarmiento would be the same block as 1099 Sarmiento. While it would require some legwork, after a month you could easily have the entire city geocoded.

Large amount of consumers: Check.
Desire to get online by local businesses: Check.
Solid amount of tourists/visitors: Check.
Zero competition: Check.

And I’m quite sure Buenos Aires is not the only major city waiting for online-local sites.

2 Responses to The Local Opportunity – elsewhere

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branden

June 6th, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Ahmed.
I discover the same thing every time I’m down there or in East Europe. Even ignoring the local market and thinking only in terms of foreign visitors represents a lot of opportunity. As a “tourist” I’ve found myself frustrated in my hunt for things to do, places to eat, etc. in BsAs. A deep, quality local travel guide does not exist in my opinion.

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