Stamped: Your Seal Of Approval On The World

By April 9, 2012

Reading long diatribes on review sites like Yelp and Amazon can leave you wondering about the judgement (and sometimes emotional stability) of strangers when it comes to finding the best places and products. A new startup called Stamped is trying to change that.

By adding relevancy and visual queues to the standard reviews model, Stamped wants to help you make snap decisions about the world around you with the help of your social graph. There are no star ratings, and text reviews are limited to just a few sentences. Instead, you “stamp” your favorite things with your approval.

Stamped’s app allows users to choose a color to represent their stamp. Users can choose places, books, movies, and music to stamp. The idea behind the app is to only mark the things that you would absolutely recommend to your best friends. By giving your favorite things your stamp of approval, your friends can easily find things based on your recommendation.

Stamped was founded in New York City by Robby Stein, Kevin Palms, and Bart Stein. Previously, Robby Stein worked at Google, Bart Stein worked at Google Creative Lab, and Kevin Palms worked leading risk analytics technology at a New York hedge fund. The team secured $1.5 million total seed funding from Bain Capital Ventures and Google Ventures.

Since the app’s launch in November, it has been well received by early adopters who are drawn in by the app’s intuitive and beautifully designed user experience.

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Although Stamped is free, the company makes money from affiliate relationships when users follow through on taking their friends’ recommendations. The app allows you to click through to purchase movie tickets, books, and book restaurant reservations.

Stamped’s two advisors include chef and food personality Mario Batali and Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom. Based on its choice of advisors, it’s clear that Stamped is going for a mobile recommendation experience that is both simple (a la Instagram) and useful. Batali’s influence in the restaurant world is unparalleled as his food empire has been expanding into media.

The mobile recommendation space is crowded, with dominant players, like Foursquare, already capitalizing on features like Explore that show you what your friends like. Stamped’s point of differentiation is its ease of use and its expansion beyond place recommendations. Because so many recommendation apps are easy to game by marketers, Stamped’s success will hinge upon its ability to keep stamps of approval true representations of what friends and tastemakers actually like.