App Name: BetrSpot Available Platforms: Android and iPhone (in Beta) Price: Free
What does this app do?: In 2007, Andrew Rollert found himself standing in line with a friend outside Fenway Park for series tickets to a Red Sox-Yankees game. At 5 a.m., having camped out in line overnight, Rollert decided he wasn't willing to wait another eight hours for the box office to open. Looking down the line behind him, he could see hundreds of others waiting, eager for a chance to get their hands on a standing room only ticket. It occurred to him many of those people would be keen to trade their spot for his, even pay him for it. Rollert grabbed a marker and piece of cardboard, scribbled "Who wants to buy out my spot in line?" and in matter of minutes he had a buyer. Others borrowed his sign and started to trade out their spots, too.
The experience got Rollert thinking about the implicit value people attach to spots, whether in line for a product launch, waiting for tickets to a concert, or occupying a cozy corner at a local coffee shop. And so a few years later, he developed an app called BetrSpot, a location-based app that allows users to post and bid on available spots in crowded areas, giving those who are willing to give up their spot a chance to make a few extra dollars, and those who are eager for a specific location a chance to move up in line or nab a coveted window seat.
"We're trying to create an application and a marketplace that allows people to optimize the way they share things," said Rollert, whose Boston-based company launched a beta version of the app about a month ago.
Within the BetrSpot ecosphere, there are "spot posters," or people who are willing to trade the spot they occupy for a price, and "bidders," or those who are willing to pay take over a location. Once you arrive at a venue, you can check in, indicate the type of spot you occupy -a window seat at a café, for example - and post the price you would be willing to accept to leave that spot. On the flip side, users who are looking for a particular spot, say a bar stool directly in front of the TV during a football game, can post a request.
Once users check into a specific location, the app displays the available spots and bids, and facilitates the logistics of a trade by prompting the spot poster to accept a bid and providing some basic information about the bidder including a photo. The bidder, in turn, is prompted to "move," and notify the app when he or she has taken over the spot.
The app charges a 10 percent fee to the spot poster's price; if you're willing to give up your seat at a coffee shop for $10, for example, the bidder will pay $11.
"We want to keep this an ongoing market and for us the real benefit is going to the person who we're finding a spot for," Rollert said. "It makes sense to us that the bidder is the one who ends up paying the fee."
At the moment, BetrSpot has a few hundred beta users, and Rollert says the company is developing versions for both Android and iPhone.
Is it easy to install? In order to use BetrSpot, users must sign up to be a part of the of the beta team through the website, a painless and expeditious process.
Should I try it? Rollert's concept taps into an instinct most of us have when we enter a crowded location: people immediately begin assessing the location, hunting for a spot where they want to be and asking themselves, "How can I get that comfy table for two over by the fireplace, or what will it take for me to get ahead in line?" Therefore, it's worth testing out BetrSpot to see how quickly you can obtain a choice piece of real-estate or make a few dollars by trading it in.