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Buffy Li was very client when she took time off from her Spring Crack to converse to me.

Li, an eleventh grader at Santa Cruz’s Kirby prep faculty, used her most of the week off coordinating the start of her new app, TagDat. While she’s pressured about having her ducks in a row, the app is in fact the second startup she’s worked on, so she appreciates how it goes.

As one particular of the founders of TagDat, a nascent would-be Yelp competitor with $280,000 in pre-seed funding, Li doesn’t have time for substantially of a social everyday living. She does on the other hand handle to dutifully keep an Instagram account for her cat, a cornflower blue-eyed ragdoll named Bailey (at the time of crafting, Bailey experienced 27,four hundred followers).

Buffy Li, co-founder

Li created TagDat with co-founders Wilson Li (no relation), 21, and College of California university student Zheng Cai, 31. The workforce combines Li’s minimalist structure beliefs and foodie bent with Cai’s significant facts chops (he’s an astrophysics publish-doc and NASA Hubble Fellow) and Wilson Li’s startup understanding.

Prior to TagDat, Li taught herself app structure with her initial app, Haorizi, a Chinese social community for women of all ages, when a household buddy necessary to provide another designer in to collaborate with the company’s present workforce.

“I have normally been fascinated in all varieties of designing,” Li explained. “I’ve tried out a whole lot of things in the previous, drawing, oil painting and whatnot. I really really like UI/UX structure for sites.”


Just 3 years back, Li’s household moved to Santa Cruz from Wuxi, “a reasonably tiny but made city” close to Shanghai. Since transferring, she’s been balancing her intercontinental get the job done travel with her other duties, like AP Physics.

Right after the TagDat workforce received a prototype off the ground, they connected with Shanghai Man Feng Asset Management Business, which chipped in $250,000 in a pre-seed spherical.

“We presented them with the plan, and we experienced a functioning prototype at that time,” Li recounts. “Both my partner and I received received to give the pitch. We divided it fifty percent and fifty percent and I covered the specialized structure facet and he covered extra the promoting facet.”

In an industry usually openly hostile to women of all ages 2 times her age, Li has not experienced substantially trouble proving herself. “In most encounters I’m really lucky that individuals really choose me critically and that they believe in what I’m accomplishing.” Li observed that any skeptics went quiet immediately after the app raised its first cash.

TagDat departs from Yelp’s mildew in a several means. For one particular, it is bright and playful, extra like Foursquare but with out the gamification or identification disaster. But the main big difference is that TagDat relies on tags fairly than text. It’s like the emoji equivalent of nearby business critiques, allowing customers charge a position with at-a-glance descriptors like “spicy” or “authentic” fairly than digging by means of a bunch of not very searchable words.

If you ask Li, Yelp buries its most useful data, and even when it doesn’t “the success aren’t very good.” Of program, as a new nearby critiques app, TagDat wants to struggle an uphill fight to populate its databases. For now, it will count on a blend of external listings like Google Sites blended with and facts from alpha/beta testers.

Simply because pre-identified tags can be parsed even extra conveniently than text, TagDat strategies to examine how customers explain its listings and market specific analyses to the companies it lists fairly than relying on advertising and marketing profits.

Li and workforce believe that the tension for companies to advertise is biased toward recognized providers and that can dampen the achievements of up-and-coming companies. While the launch is only in beta, the team is now functioning on the app’s subsequent established of options as it seeks to raise all-around $4M in a good seed spherical.

Not like Li’s first app, TagDat will target a U.S. marketplace, hoping to build some desire in which Yelp has gone stale. The beta is readily available in the App Retail store now and you can stick to Bailey the cat at @baileyragdoll.

Nom nom nom… wait… what? #tbt

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