Online reviews portals catching up in Pakistan

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We have seen a growth in Web sites that are dedicated to online reviews. While the movies and music review portals are now a well established phenomenon in Pakistan but reviews on restaurants, educational institutes, health clubs and all things related to our life style are quite rare.To bridge this gap, two web portals have recently entered the cyber space.

Starz is making waves these days as this portal hosts reviews on almost everything and is a perfect city guide. A sister venture of Techtronix, Starz was launched in February. There are many unique entries like religious organizations, ‘night life’ options and financial services, among others. Anyone can write a review by just going through a simple registration process (sans any charges). You can also upload your picture and give more details though most of the users have preferred to remain semi-anonymous.

The reviewing process is pretty simple as almost all of the famous eateries, hospitals, car dealers, shopping centers and professional services spots have been listed on the site. You just have to select one and write a review. You can also add a picture if you want. Restaurants have got the highest number of reviews and understandably so (Islooites seem to be the most active reviewers as there were 60 such reviews for Islamabad while just 49 for Karachi and 41 for Lahore when I last checked). The thing which distinguish Starz from other such sites is that they are offering ‘dinner for two‘ for the reviewers. Each month five prizes will be given in this connection (During Ramadan, they were offering a maximum of Rs. 750 worth Iftaar dinner for two).

There is one issue though. The quality of reviews ranges from excellent to mediocre and the moderators have failed to maintain a certain standard. The standards can be improved if they set a format for reviews like description, photos, prices and pros and cons of a place. Another issue is the design of the portal. Very small fonts and dull outlook is a major turnoff for me at least. Still, the portal will get a high rating because of its innovative style. Right?Wait a minute.

One of our readers recently pointed out that the Web site is a direct rip-off of Yelp, a popular US-based reveiws site. That’s really an abominable act.

Now a passing mention to Foona, an Islamabad-based eateries review site. The portal is still in developmental stages and just give you the basic pointers about a restaurant ( only limited to Islamabad places currently).

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13 Comments

  • We need such sites in Pakistan so its a good move forward but interestingly/ironically Starz is very very similar to Yelp.com :-)

  • Yeah you are very right. I don’t know why have they directly lifted the theme n style :(

  • Unless there is a formal partnership (which I can’t find anywhere on the site), it is a shameless rip-off of http://www.yelp.com

  • Sharjeel, it’s not just a shamless rip-off..:) that would suggest that they just copied the idea or something, it’s EXACTLY the same COPY of the html code even :) the div tags, everything is same (except ofcourse things that “starz” dont need!)

    However, it’s okay! They just ‘imported’ the idea, copied a successful site and started to focus on marketing. Who cares about technology behind it as long as it helps us users!

  • Cool… I wonder who’s teaching startups here that this is a good way to go? Rip-off, SEO, Google Ads = Bling?

  • this is an interesting market.. :)

  • Oh common! would you give these guyz a break! they took an initiative and made something for the local market and that too country wide not just one city!!. I guess their real bench mark of success is how many people start using their site not that it was a rip-off. no one criticizes india for ripping off anything infact every one around the globe love their movies (even if they are 90% ripOffs 😉 ).

  • bunnu, comparing a movie’s storyline that is ripped off an hollywood movie, is like comparing apples to oranges.

    I don’t care if they ripped the idea, anyone can do that — their success will ultimately depend on their execution. But they have copied the whole look and feel and without giving any credits back to the original developer.

    That is wrong. Just plain simple wrong.

    I really hope they have a plan to execute behind the idea cuz otherwise its just another site with no hope.

  • It’s good to see such sites coming up in Pakistan. We, at NLT, are also launching a site with similar concept soon, called yellO!

    As for Starz and co being a rip-off of Yelp, that’s true to an extent, but almost all such websites follow the same pattern as Yelp, for example: check out http://www.tipped.co.uk/listings/50658/strip . And there are many other websites, US and UK based, which have the same structure and layout style and even the categories.

    As for yellO, more info will be revealed soon.

  • obaid rightly said… yeah i do agree that comparing story line was wrong but i wasn’t comparing the stroylines i was pointing out to the same fact that you are saying their execution matters sure anyone can copy sawant also pointed out the same by sharing http://www.tipped.co.uk , thanks sawant.

    I was just on starz seemed they took things too seriously and changed their look and feel too 😉 i guess our comments made the difference… yippeee :) :)

  • Well if they listened to criticism held it in positive and acted upon it, I would give them a very high ranking there are very very few people in pakistan (let alone businesses) who have the heart to listen to criticism in a positive way.
    Good going starz

  • Wow!
    They have changed their look and feel. This looks good now and original – isn’t it? People’s comments here made the difference.

  • Thanks for mentioning foona.net in your post.

    Just came across it while doing some research. Although this post is a few years old, I’d like to share the latest progress since we revived work on the site. We launced the beta site this week.

    Visit foona.net to request access and help refine. You can also check out our social presence across facebook, twitter, instagram and others.

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