Haitao Li, a Senior Software Development Engineer at Microsoft, and Robert Mao, SDE at Microsoft Research and the company’s FUSE labs have launhced a new startup called “LOCQL,” a new Q&A service contender to Hipster (yet-to-launch local), or perhaps about some of its competitors Loqly, Gootip, Loqize.me or Localmind.
The concept behind LOCQL’s take on local Q&A is fairly straightforward. Users sign up through Facebook Connect and are then encouraged to share as much information about a given place that could be useful to other people, whether they are visitors or residents.
LOCQL users can vote on answers based on their quality and interact with other community members. Eventually, LOCQL should become collaborative community building an extensive database of answers about places, local businesses and whatnot, on a global scale.
Li, said they consider the key problem in local search today to not be the data set but the missing link between user queries and location information. LOCQL aims to leverage users’ existing social graphs as well as game mechanics to try and change that.
The company is at present self-funded but Li says they’ve already been approached by quite some VCs despite keeping a relatively low profile.