Quick Pitch: Banjo harnesses publicly-available social and local information and gives users the ability to filter that content based on their interests and location.
Genius Idea: Discover what you might be missing in the world around you.
The marriage of the digital and physical realms is perhaps best made by way of location services that allow users to share their whereabouts and link them to venues, photos and objects.
And yet, that all-important physical link is often missed in real world scenarios when it matters most. Case in a point: An out-of-town friend posts a photo to Instagram from a place just a few miles away from you, but you never see the update, and you miss the chance to reconnect with an old friend.
Damien Patton says this very scenario was the impetus for his startup Banjo, a location-based mobile application to rule them all.
Banjo, launched Wednesday for iPhone and Android, isn’t a checkin application — although you can do that, too. Instead, it’s an aggregator of all location-based social updates and it’s designed for both social-mobile-local early adopters and newbies alike.
Banjo is intended to help you avoid missed opportunities, whether the opportunity takes the shape of a nearby friend or information shared by a nearby stranger. “Whatever it is that is going on around you,” Patton says, “it could have an impact on you in an important way.”
The application is simple to use. Fire it up and you’ll instantly see the 16 people nearest you, as sourced from numerous third-party public geo-tagged social media updates, and what they’re saying via a map or list view. Or optionally, navigate around the world to get a snapshot of what’s happening at any given place.
Banjo works whether or not you connect your own Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter or Gowalla accounts. When you connect your social accounts, the application highlights your friends and allows you to filter results for just your friends.
Patton says the mobile applications are ideal for right here, right now moments, but also useful if you wish to plan ahead. So you could, for instance, peek in on what’s happening at Disneyland, by way of status updates streaming in, and get some pre-visit information from strangers in the know.
“Whenever you open Banjo, you have an instant community, and you’re never alone,” says Patton.
Airports, he says, are already hotspots among day-one Banjo users. The assumption is that users are turning to Banjo to discover if friends happen to be just a few gates away.
Ultimately, Patton sees Banjo as a funnel for the noise coming out Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Gowalla, Facebook and so forth. “We’re making that information digestible for people at large,” he says.
Banjo has raised an undisclosed amount of funding in a round led by BlueRun Ventures.