For those that don’t know, I’m the owner of And I thought I’d share some background:

I started zoomin back in 2005, before Google Maps released in New Zealand. Back then there were no mapping apis, so we rolled our own javascript api (using a tool called ka-maps) and created our own map tiles (using data from a nz provider and rendered using mapserver). I originally had the idea of creating a site that was like ‘flickr for maps’, where you could find businesses, tag them, categorize them, and add them to groups where people could discuss could places and recommend things to each other.

I started building this as a site called, and got some good traction with just the maps, even without any businesses or other places. I then met a guy called John Clegg who invested in the company and we renamed the maps to We got a good lead on wises and google maps in New Zealand, so we started getting a bit of traffic. We then came up with a cool URL addressing scheme, so that a map of leeds street, te aro, would have the map url /wellington/te+aro/leeds+street/. Google then came along and indexed this url scheme and we got some good google juice.

We then added support for tags, comments, photos and groups. So people can create a new business on the site, add photos, use tags to categorise it, and then add comments to record their experience. This was in 2006, and we were getting good traction with the site, and the bulk of the comments and groups on the site were created in 2006/2007.

I then left zoomin at the end of 2006 to go live in Germany, and John and the team kept zoomin running. Sadly, after 2007, the amount of social activity on the site went into a bit of a backwards slide. I’m not sure if this was because different revisions of the site made it too hard to discover the social content, or whether competing sites (menumania, google maps, panoramio) did such a good job of the social aspect of zoomin that people didn’t see the need any more.

Anway - fastforward to 2012 and I got in contact with John and I convinced him to sell me the site. So since mid-2012, I’ve been slowly chipping away at bringing the design of the site up to date, and trying to pump some life back into the site.

So, this is my question, do you think there’s still an opportunity to build a social network around maps and businesses, or is this niche too well served by foursquare, yelp, localist and facebook places?

I’d really love to get the groups pumping again, get people creating little communities around mountain bike tracks, or craft beer bars, or family friendly restaurants. That’s my ultimate goal for zoomin, to be a more social version of google maps.