At the Consumer Electronics Show Mobile App Showdown event, iHeartLocal, an app that’s about building relationships with the places that we frequent and refer to our friends and family, won big!

It won at all three levels of the competition:

  • Selected by the judging panel as one of ten finalists from the many submissions.
  • Overwhelmingly won the online vote, beating the second place entry by a margin of three votes to one.
  • Won the live audience-judged event in front of over 500 media, industry, government and financial leaders.

A great achievement by the developer team which included Canadians Stephen Ibaraki and Dave O’Leary.

Stephen links their success to the way they continually evolve the app by building the minimum viable product and then make it available to users asking for feedback and ideas to improve it. They monitor users as they go through the product, install it on their phone and ask them if they find it useful, would they pay for it, etc. Through this continuous feedback loop the app is always getting better.

Dave adds that the largest source of new customers for small businesses is through referral channel, and iHeartLocal makes such referrals a lot easier. Referrals from friends and family have a much higher success conversion rate than any reviews or advertisements.

One of its tools includes the ability for consumers to share their favourite places (as well as campaigns and messages from those places) on their social network like Facebook. Those same businesses also have the ability to track those referral activities and identify their most active customers/advocates. You could call iHeartLocal the trip advisor of all things!

What were the reasons for creating the iHeartLocal app? They wanted to make it easier for small businesses to connect with their local community and best customers. They envisioned that once it is used within a community, it will be like asking your extended family or trusted friend for a recommendation.

According to Nielsen, over 90 per cent of consumers will choose a friend’s and/or family’s recommendation over any form of advertisement. Not only that, according to the Wharton School of business, a referral customer costs a lot less to acquire, and has a higher retention and loyalty.

Only one third of the customers who want to provide a business with referral, actually do. iHeartLocal makes doing such referrals easier. It also helps small businesses connect with their best customers/members/followers and vice versa. The businesses will have the ability to track those referral activities and identify their most active customers and connect with them.

To see an example of a video they did for one of the iHeartLocal Places, click here.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
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Catherine Aczel Boivie
Dr. Catherine Aczel Boivie is a widely respected executive with over 30 years of experience in the leadership of advancing the value of information technology as a business and education enabler. Prior executive roles includes: CEO Inventure Solutions and Senior Vice President of Information Technology/Facility Management for Vancity Credit Union; SVP of IT and Chief Information Officer at Pacific Blue Cross and Canadian Automobile Association of British Columbia. Catherine is also an experienced board member serving on several boards, including those of Commissioner for Complaints for Telecom-television Services, Canada Foundation for Innovation and MedicAlert Canada. Dr. Boivie is the founding Chair and President of the Chief Information Officers (CIO) Association of Canada that has over 400 Chief Information Officers as members across Canada. She has been publicly recognized for her contributions, including being named as one of Canada's top 100 most powerful women by the Women's Executive Network in the "Trailblazers and Trendsetters" category and the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee medal for being a "catalyst for technology transformation".