Posted by on October 4, 2010


(Reposted by Pelago, makers of Whrrl on their business blog)

GPS based checkin apps are all the rage these days. They started to gain popularity in early 2009 with the launch of Loopt, Gowalla, and Yelp. Foursquare came along and made a big impact in this space, having recently surpassed 3 million users. Feeling the growing demand for check-in activity, Facebook also recently launched its check-in app called Places to its 500 million users.

What are GPS based checkin apps?

They are mobile applications available on GPS enabled smart phones that allow you to “check in” to your locations and share your whereabouts with your friends. You can also see where your friends are at any given moment. How are these new applications trending? Foursquare Founder Dennis Crowley was quoted recently that the service is signing up an average of 18,000 new users every day.

And then came Whrrl… A completely different experience over any other check-in app. Whrrl took this space by a whirlwind surprise and seems to be on a mission to “end Social Rut” by allowing users to not only check in to a location, but share their whole experience with notes, recommendations and photos. There’s much more to Whrrl than the other checkin apps.

Users get rewarded by gaining membership to Societies and can level up within those Societies. So it becomes like a game. You start competing with your online friends. When someone clicks on “I want to”, “I’ve done this” or recommend an experience to other users, you can also earn influence points.

You’ll learn fun facts about each check in, like the name of the person who first checked into a location or where people go before or after checking in to your location. Imagine the marketing potential for brick and mortar companies. You can create your own societies, too!

An increasing number of merchants have created offers to Whrrl users such as discounts to food or beverages, and even bigger perks to VIP members of high level Societies, which gives users incentive to continue checking in with Whrrl and making recommendations. Big brands are always trying to make tighter connections with their customers and build loyalty and they’re taking notice. Whrrl recently launched a promotion with RedBull, for example, showing that progressive companies are already testing the waters on check-in marketing.

What differentiates Whrrl is our purpose: which is getting people out in the real world trying new things”, according to Jeff Holden, co-founder and CEO of Pelago, the company behind Pelago. “Users join Societies- which are passion groups for the real world – so, whether you’re a foodie, mountain biker or margarita-lover, there’s a Society for you. Once in, users inspire each other to try new experiences through sharing recommendations and photos/notes that capture their real-world experiences. In addition, they earn “influence points” as they try new things and inspire others to do so as well, and prove their adventures, too.

So how do I use Whrrl? I enjoy sharing my experiences with my friends. Especially when I discover a new restaurant that I want to recommend. For example, my husband Jim and I had dinner with friends at California Shabu Shabu in Costa Mesa, California recently. That was our first time to dine in that type of restaurant, where you cook your own food. It’s very much like a fondue restaurant, but Asian inspired. We were amazed by the fresh veggies, meat and seafood selection and had so much fun cooking it ourselves while chatting with our friends and sipping Fuji Apple sake. What a fun evening! I checked in and was able to create a new location. And for doing this get I get whrrl cred. Each time you discover a new place you become more influential. I shared photos, added captions and recommended the restaurant right away. And it only took a few moments on my iPhone. Now all my friends can click on my Whrrl “story” and see my notes, photos and read my recommendation. Of course merchants love this–free word of whrrl marketing!

Here are some sample screen shots from my iPhone:

I was first to check in at California Shabu Shabu!

Here you see the viral aspect of users checking in. Not only does the merchant get killer exposure, I racked up 130 extra points from people responding to my recommendation.

Who’s behind Whrrl?

Whrrl is created by Pelago a company based in Seattle, Washington and is led by executives from companies including Amazon, RealNetworks and Yahoo. Pelago was founded in 2006 and is VC backed by pioneering and mobile investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), Bezos Expeditions, T-Venture, Trilogy Equity Partners and Reliance Technology Ventures. Jeff Holden’s claim to fame is the “if you like this then you’ll like that” related items engine on Amazon. Whrrl doesn’t seem to be worried that they’re behind Foursquare in terms of users. Remember when MySpace was the Social Media leader? The popularity of Foursquare and Facebook’s “Places” media coverage is bringing location based apps to the forefront.

Where Facebook Places has limited functionality which ties into existing Facebook pages, Foursquare and Whrrl bring a more elaborate and fun experience. Whrrl is my personal fav but it only currently works on iPhone platform. (But Android and Blackberry versions are coming soon according to Whrrl.) Wanna see how it works? Click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnA0h88tmyY


So yup, Whrrl rrcks. But be careful, Whrrl is rrrrly addcting!

–MaryAnne Wendt  / Twitter: @maryannewendt


MaryAnne Wendt is a purple loving techie girl who loves spending time with her family, all things Apple, anything web related, the beach & going to Disneyland. She’s an early adopter of Internet applications spanning over two decades. A social media junkie, MaryAnne tweets and regularly updates her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Posterous, WordPress, Whrrl, FourSquare, DailyMile, DailyBooth, Blip.fm, GetGlue and others. All her social media links are on her Flavors page at http://flavors.me/maryannewendt.

Jim Wendt is a New Business Development and Marketing Guru. He’s the most creative person on the planet. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.


I just wanted to say Thank You to Heather Meeker, Director of Marketing & PR for Whrrl, for taking time to chat with me and Jim on the phone about Whrrl. Follow her on Twitter @HeatherMeeker. She’s awesome!

Featured Checkin Location:

California Shabu Shabu Restaurant
801 Baker St. #A
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 540-1888
Leonard Chan, Owner

  • http://www.soulhumming.typepad.com kelly snelling

    i was just checking out whrrl last night. fun coincidence. :0)

  • http://maryannewendt.wordpress.com maryannewendt

    Hi Kelly! Thanks for visiting! Whrrl is fun! I like how you can create photo stories about each check in and share it. It’s like a mini blog post. :-)

  • Pingback: WHRRL RRCKS! : Pelago, Inc.

  • http://twitter.com/jeffreyfriend Jeff Friend

    Wow Maryanne, GREAT POST!!! Whrrl has made it to my top 3 checkin apps: Foursquare, Yelp, and Whrrl. Looking forward to your other posts!