Baa-aah! I feel the hair stand up on the back of my sheepish neck! A Boston-based “mystery shopper” service called Mobee just got $1.1 million in seed funding from LaunchCapital, TiE Angels Boston, Hub Angels, and others, according to Techcrunch.
Never mind that the Mobee brand is as unimaginative as any other bee-obsessed (bee-centric) brand… What I don’t get is… do marketers really believe that bees would buy more than sheep? And who can trust bees to review products and services anyway? They cannot spell, they just buzz…
OK if it had to be bees (!)… but $1.1 Million for an app that only works in the Boston area, and only on Apple devices? Damn, some people enjoy throwing money down the drain! An Android app is supposed to be in the works, which partially explains the funding. But growing the user base far enough to boost Mobee to sense? Whatever PR pitched Sarah Perez and made her report on this thing should get a good slice of that funding. Have I mentioned that Sarah’s article reads like a role-call? Three whole paragraphs role-calling the people behind the swarm, my fellow quadrupeds!
No problem so far. What really grinds my gears is the mystery shopper idea. In fact, Mobee “aims to transform smartphone users into mystery shoppers who visit retailers and restaurants incognito and provide feedback in exchange for rewards” – to quote The Boston Globe. Has no one learned anything from TripAdvisor yet? How reliable are anonymous and “mystery” reviews anyway? BTW; wait till Yelp gets sniff of this statement by Mobee CEO Prahar Shah:
“We see ourselves as above Yelp, as there’s a little bit more effort in the questions you answer through your mobile device.”
Heck, Yelp had the audacity to go against Google. Mobee is small potatoes, or small whatever bees like to dig into. There is still potential for the winged insects joining the Mobee swarm though, and it counts in cents. US cents, that is: when Mobee users “fill out their report using the Mobee app they get a digital credit of $1 to $5. They can cash in that credit for gift cards at Amazon and iTunes; have it deposited to a PayPal account; or donate it to charity,” according to the report by The Boston Globe.
Do you know what this means? That Mobee is very likely to go berserk with “money making”, coupon-clipping fans. $1 to $5 to review Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway, McDonald’s and the like? Heck, a sandwich down there is not worth the credit. Really, who can afford to back-up mystery reviews on Mobee, and for how long?
You know, in a normal web environment today, Mobee would only stand as much of a chance as any other startup offering incentives. But the app world is a different deal. It’s still early to penetrate, and first comers stand a pretty fair chance to become powerful entities. For Mobee, when the sheep ends this discourse, it will all be a matter of PR. In the end, Mobee is capitalizing on a smart proposition: what’s in it for the user. If it glitters, it must be gold (or honey?). Sheepy out!