The Text Recommendation: HearBy’s MacGuffin


A MacGuffin is a plot device in movies and literature that isn’t all that important to the story but kickstarts the characters into doing something interesting. Take the Sorcerer’s Stone in Harry Potter, “Rosebud” in Citizen Kane, or the titular Maltese Falcon, those are classic MacGuffins.

The MacGuffin for the HearBy story looks a little bit like this:


I’ll bet you a hundred shares of our (valueless and imaginary) stock that you’ve participated in a text exchange like this in the past month.

Matt and I both went to colleges away from home that drew in kids from all over the world, then moved to a completely different city after graduating. I’ve got my hometown friends, my college friends, and my new city friends and we’re all constantly traveling and asking each other stuff like:





I’m always happy to help out my friends and it’s validating to feel like an authority on the places I know, but I often felt like I was giving the same stock responses. Wouldn’t it be easier if there was just a place where I could list out where I would recommend they go in the first place?

Matt described having the exact same experience when I met him. We thought there had to be an easier way to share info like this on a wider scale.

We tried making custom Google maps, but those were clunky and would require a map for every city I’d been to. We tried writing lists in Foursquare, but there’s no way to compile both of our lists onto one map. We found a new app called Posse that let you mark your favorite places, but only solved a couple of the problems with FoursquareYelp is so flooded with opinions that any new review is just a drop in the bucket, and don’t even think about finding your friends there.


Google Map with a late stage STI

So we started talking about what our ideal solution would do. It would:

  1. Let you see all of your friends’ favorite places and why they like them.
  2. Compile the favorite places all of the other sources (blogs, magazines, celebs) you might be interested in so you wouldn’t have to search constantly for Jonathan Gold’s 101 or all the places Anthony Bourdain‘s been.
  3. Have information on both a list and a map to show you what great places are near your current location (or any location).
  4. Avoid a numerical rating system like Yelp, which can unjustly quantify the merits of a given place.
  5. Be embeddable and emailable, so you could post your own list map on a blog or website or even email it to someone without an account.

That’s when we thought, why don’t we try to make that?

Stay tuned for the next post for all the interesting things involved in “making that”…


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About deshuck

Startup founder, filmmaker, jean blogger, typewriter enthusiast.

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