I rarely write about private companies other than Facebook but an intriguing company named Betterfly caught my attention, specifically for how it addresses local personal search and how Google (GOOG), Yahoo! (YHOO), and AOL could benefit from having this company within their fold.
Betterfly is a New York City based local search engine that promises to match consumers seeking for what they term Betterists - teachers, tutors, coaches, trainers, or anyone else who offers a service that helps others learn.
The company's press release states that it is the first of its kind search engine to exclude companies in the search results, but rather present individuals skilled in a particular service. Like other e-commerce and advertising sites, Betterfly allows clients of the Betterists to leave reviews. But unlike other sites, the Betterists must first verify that the person seeking to leave a review was indeed a client. This was designed to prevent third parties from leaving negative or positive reviews and potentially skew the review and ratings system. The bias here is that the Betterist who knows that a client will leave a negative review can simply state that they never serviced the client. More work needed there.
Nonetheless, I think the idea is unique and the search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft (MSFT) could benefit from Betterfly's model to serve more personalized local search results. The site offers an alternative and frankly a step up to Craigslist in that it allows the Betterists to host a webpage with their qualifications, it has reviews, and the interface is much more user friendly.
Betterfly also facilitates the transaction with the calendar service, a feature absent from Craigslist.
Google and Yahoo! should take a look at Betterfly as a way to enhance and offer a better search result set.