Creating Foursquare

By: Shannon Emmerson


In 1999, founders Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert began a business centered around a mobile social network they termed “Dodgeball”. Though Dodgeball was picked up by Google in 2005 it quickly failed due to minimal backing and promotion. Crowley and Rainert had become discouraged and discontinued their work on the project. It wasn’t until the launch of the IPhone mobile applications that their faith was restored.

In 2007 the ambitious entrepreneurs rushed to make their mark in the app industry. Dennis Crowley was one of these motivated businessmen along with his new partner, Naveen Salvadurai. Together they launched their new product named “Foursquare”. Foursquare was similar to Crowley’s first creation however this time he targeted specific markets to ensure his success. The way he accomplished this was through what he called “gamification”. Gamification appealed to three different types of customers. The first involved users who recently joined Foursquare and do not have many friends. These users collect badges for their successes to prevent them from losing interest prior to building a large friend base. The second method of gamification allowed strangers to compete against each other by claiming territory, competing for the higher positions, and establishing loyalty. The third way of ensuring users were constantly engaged appealed to those who were connected to many friends and allowed friends to compete for points and positions on the leader board.

I thought this way of structuring the game was absolutely brilliant. I have created accounts many times then quickly deleted them due to the inability to acquire a significant amount of friends quickly enough. However, the creators of Foursquare developed a method that allowed consumers to fall in love with their product rapidly and understand how to navigate the site in the first few uses.  I strongly believe this was one of the major differences between the failure of Dodgeball and the success of Foursquare.

Foursquare has grown significantly in the past few years however Crowley has said it is only “10% of what it needs to be”. Nevertheless, Foursquare has acquired many users over the years and are continuing to expand. It is clear Foursquare will become a strong competitor to its rivals in years to come.

If you would like to watch a video of CEO Dennis Crowley and his journey to create Foursquare, click the following link:











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