San Mateo-based local reviews site Smalltown kicked off today with $3 million in initial Series A funding from Formative Ventures. Currently only available for San Mateo and Burlingame residents, Smalltown aims to bring out the best of the ‘local web’ in the smaller towns by getting businesses and clubs to form listings, regular customers to review their favorite “everything,” and anyone to take part in discussions on and with their local communities.
Essentially, Smalltown works on ‘Webcards.’ A webcard can be a listing, review, or discussion. By encouraging user-generated content to fall through, it aims to get the community involved in contributing, analyzing, and following (the reviews). San Francisco-based Yelp, which recently raised $10 million in Series B, also shares a similar concept but aims at big cities rather than small towns.
A clearly dumbfounding thing about Smalltown is that it’s entirely Flash-based. This is I think a really bad thing for a site like such. First, a major source of traffic for local reviews sites is from search engines, where Smalltown will literally be nonexistent. Second, for a flash site, Smalltown really doesn’t make the most out of it. There’s nothing I can see which couldn’t easily be done through AJAX, HTML, and image graphics, nor is there anything that impresses me. For better Web 2.0 Flash-based applications, see Wallop and Famster.
Even though Smalltown has some advantages, it doesn’t amaze me, nor does it disappoint — it’s an OK product which could’ve been better. Although, given some of its disadvantages, if it does break through into its targeted market and manages to successfully gather a community, that’d be its biggest advantage and I’d use it if I could.
[tags]Smalltown, Local Reviews[/tags]