Australian woman receives backing from Silicon Valley for social media startup

Rebekah CampbellAustralian entrepeneur Rebekah Campbell has received $1.2 million in funding for her latest project – a lifestyle, fashion and culture social media platform called ‘Posse’ – from some of the world’s top start-up investors, including Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bill Tai.

Other second round investors for Posse include Tatts CEO Robbie Cooke, MTV’s global head of sales Dave Sibley and Ebay Motors founder Simon Rothman. Lars Rasmussen, creator of Google Maps and currently Facebook’s Director of Engineering, is also on Posse’s Board of Directors.

The first round of investment for Posse came from angel investors in Australia. The site has also been awarded funding by Australia’s Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

Posse.com is a social media driven search engine where consumers all over the world are able to provide honest, personalised recommendations of their favourite retailers.

“What we’re actually building is a social search engine,” Rebekah Campbell told Australian Women Online.

“Say you’re in a new place and you want to find a bar. At the moment you can go to Google or Yelp, but it’s really hard to tell [from the search results] what kind of bars you would like. Or if you’re looking for a hairdresser – how do you know a hairdresser you find on Google is a good hairdresser? Generally you want to ask your friends. This is a search engine which asks your entire social network for recommendations.”

When users join Posse they’re invited to build a street which includes five of their absolute favourite places and an explanation as to why they love them. A user’s ultimate street can include anything from restaurants to venues and boutiques. When your friends create their own streets on Posse, you can see each other’s favourite places in the ‘town’ your social network has created.

Rebekah provided this example: “Say you enter a search ‘I want pancakes for breakfast in Surry Hills’ and it will show you recommendations. You can then trawl though all the comments people have made about places in the list of relevant results and you can see how you’re connected to that person who made that recommendation. It will show you if they’re a friend of yours, if they’re a friend of a friend of yours, or a friend of a friend of a friend of yours and so on. You can also see recommendations from people outside your social network.”

Posse.com

To drive greater consumer participation on Posse, businesses listed on Posse.com will be encouraged to reward their loyal customers with special offers on the site. As this is a social search engine, businesses are only invited to join the social network after receiving a personal recommendation from one of their customers.

Users can recommend just about anything on Posse. However, Posse was created primarily to promote local businesses. It’s about places you have discovered in your local area which you think your friends and people in your extended social network might also enjoy. If you don’t have a large network of friends who active online, you’ll also be able to see recommendations from people outside your own social network.

The beta version of Posse.com has already attracted more than 8,000 businesses to list on the site and has a huge following from women with high disposable incomes and very active social lives.

I’ve only provided you with a very brief overview of the site here, so may want to check out the site yourself for more details. You can login to Posse.com using your Facebook credentials. You can also link your other social media accounts to your Posse account.

Although the official launch of Posse.com is not scheduled until late February 2013, anyone can register today and start building their ultimate retail street.

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