A new start-up Banjo is launching today to help people track and filter through the slew of social media services.
Banjo is an iPhone and Android app focused on location that enables people to search for people’s geo-located Tweets, Foursquare or Gowalla check-ins, or Twitpic photos in a particular area. The company is founded by Damien Patton, who has an interesting background as a former NASCAR race car chief mechanic, Desert Storm veteran and MIT MBA. He says he runs his start-up like a race car operation–always fast, with no room for mistakes. “Everything is to the hundredth of a second in racing–you don’t have the luxury of mistakes,” Patton says.
The app has two major uses. First, it’s designed for finding out what is going on in a particular place. You can see all the activity around your current location, for example, plotted on a map. Or you can search for all the activity in a place you’re interested in going to, such as Times Square. You can imagine the company making a number of filters for searching for things like who is talking about a restaurant in a particular area. It’s a way to find out what people are talking about at that very instant in a particular place.
The other use of Banjo is to find all the updates of your friends, organized by location. You can basically find your friends’ updates organized by distance. This could be used for example, when you’re stuck at an airport waiting for a flight to look for nearby friends or at a conference or event. Patton came up with the idea for Banjo after he was stuck in an airport for hours, only to find out later that a friend had been close by but he had missed the person because he didn’t know he was there.
An appealing thing about Banjo is that people do not have to be on Foursquare or Twitter to use Banjo. Since Banjo is grabbing public posts, people can simply use the Banjo app and make sense of these various services.
There are other start-ups that help you find nearby people connected to you such as recently launched Sonar. But Sonar requires people to check in to a place or business, whereas Banjo just grabs Tweets or photos from where ever someone has posted them.
Banjo is backed by Blue Run Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners.