Monday, September 17, 2012

Hot Startups - BlockAvenue.Com

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Restaurants, hotels, doctors, supermarkets, books, gadgets, even the employer you love to hate – if you’re in the habit of writing reviews or doling out five-star ratings when you feel like it, you know that with the Internet, the are so many ways to do just that. Now, imagine Yelp on the street where you live, and that will be equivalent to Block Avenue.

Block Avenue is a Cambridge startup that collects opinions about the block or street you live on. Block Avenue has broken down the United States into 1.89 billion squares, each square with 300 feet on each side. Data about each block includes whether there’s a public transport system, bike-sharing/car-sharing locations; amenities like nature parks, fitness gyms, supermarkets, dry cleaners, hospitals, restaurants and schools; sex offenders who live on the block, including recent crimes. Based on the collected information, Block Avenue’s software algorithm automatically as signs a grade from A through F which shows up as you zoom in and out of Block Avenue’s map.

Site visitors can also write their own reviews of blocks they live on or known to them and add more information, including noise, traffic levels, cleanliness, overall community spirit and anything that cannot be found on Block Avenue’s database. Additional user reviews and ratings will, of course, affect the automatic grades assigned to each block.

Slated to launch next week, the company will be concentrating on the cities of Boston, New York and Washington, D. C. Founder Tony Longo says that during the site’s testing this summer, more than 2,000 reviews had already been pitched in by users hailing from the aforementioned cities.

Longo plans to include U.S. Census data onto Block Avenue’s maps, such as race, average age, income and ethnicity, which may not make a lot of people happy. As well, the rating system may spark a bit of a controversy e specially since most homeowners who intend to sell their homes wouldn’t admit to living on a block with a rating of D or F. As a result, real estate brokers may come up with sugary reviews of blocks they represent, and a natural tendency for inflated ratings is a possibility. Longo, however, promises to keep a close eye on real estate developers, agents and property administrators.

The company aims to make money via advertising, licensing data to real estate sites and selling services to real estate professionals to allow them to create reports about particular neighborhoods for their clients.

For someone looking to buy or rent a place or for tourists looking for places to stay while in the area, Block Avenue’s data will come in handy, says Longo.

[Via -]

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