interview modular innovation

Notches’ Niche – the Whole Universe

notches-logo-114 Corey Henderson, co-founder of Notches, identifies the long term goal of Notches as being “to give users the confidence that the reviews they find on a site powered by Notches present the whole universe of opinions on anything.” Recently, I met up with Corey Henderson and Tim Marman, co-founders of Notches, to learn more about their ideas and to discuss the company’s unique vision, as well as where they see themselves within the growing universe of next generation, Internet products.

More about Notches

notches-founders Notches is a platform for reviews — with the grand goal of being to eventually encompass all reviews of everything.  Notches is striving to aggregate all the reviews of everything out there, to make it easy for users to obtain and compare reviews for an item, as well as to be secure that they are looking at the entire, relevant, normalized universe of opinions for that particular product.

Unlike PowerReviews and BazaarVoice, Notches

  1. Brings all of the reviews for a given product together, into a centralized platform, to be analyzed, normalized, and summarized,
  2. Further prunes the cross-site review set to prevent gaming of the results,
  3. Eliminates (or de-emphasizes) reviews that have become old,

… while providing an API that allows any person, or company, to obtain and/or contribute to an open and accessible review platform.

Corey further explains,

“Ultimately this is about making sure online users get quality reviews on anything they are researching, from products, services, restaurants, movies, music, anything. By providing a single system for everyone to use, we can be confident that you’ll be getting as close to a complete picture of what thing is best…”

Challenging Notches

There are many challenges Notches is and will be facing as their platform evolves and matures, such as…

  • Assessing and maintaining reviewer reputation,
  • Eliminating “nonsense” reviews,
  • Squashing spammers,
  • And constantly evolving and improving the various platform algorithms (e.g. normalization).

One critical challenge that should not go unmentioned, central to all successful businesses, is the revenue model. Currently, Notches plans to drive revenue through “affiliate programs where companies like Expedia or Amazon pay (Notches) for referrals” along with “advertising, that will be included on some of (Notches’) mini-sites.”

More Notches

To help demonstrate many of the capabilities of the Notches platform, Corey and Tim have released two, fun mini-apps. Both of these demo products are built with the same Notches API that is available to today’s developers. So, if you are a developer, dive in, and please share what you create with Notches.

On Facebook, you will find Notches’ product that allows users to read and write reviews, as well as request reviews from other Facebook friends.


For Twitter, Notches has created another product that enables the obtaining and posting of reviews — especially handy when you are on the road and want some quick feedback for a particular restaurant.


The Twitter app, while not currently the best for consumer reviews via Twitter, again provides a simple introduction to both the Notches consumer features and developer API capabilities.

Expanding Universe

Notches is moving quickly in their “primary mission to work with a wide variety of partners, building tools, apps and communities around reviews” to further “showcase different aspects of (their) platform.”

Soon, from Notches, you can expect to see…

  • a widget to connect Notches to reviews on blogs,
  • new showcase applications within the vacation and travel market spaces,
  • various collaborations with, hobby sites, and college portals,

… and much more.

Continuing Modular Innovation

The Modular Innovation trend seen within many of the cutting edge, next generation products, services, and platforms is often described via the instructive categories of…

  • Sharable,
  • Flexible,
  • Interoperable,
  • Portable, and
  • Utilizable (or Convenient).

As a matter of fact, in talking more about the origins of Notches, Corey is eager to point out…

“The original thinking, that has since become Notches, came way back when web services were first introduced as a concept. We saw that best of breed services, loosely coupled, would become the model of development in the future.”

… and “Notches is simply aspiring to be the best of breed review service” in the realm of Modular Innovation and the next major evolution of the Internet.

So, where in the spectrum of Modular Innovation does Notches currently reside?

Central to Notches is Interoperability, both with other technologies as well as empowering other individuals to connect to Notches via their API. Notches leverages best of breed services and standards, from the hReview microformat to Rapleaf‘s API.

Implicit to the Notches platform are the broader characteristics of Sharability and Portability. Due to the centralizing nature of the aggregation qualities of Notches, everyone has access to all of the normalized versions of the submitted reviews, from every Internet-capable device, courtesy of the Notches API.

The Flexibility of Notches is primarily at the Interoperability level of the product, accessible via the API. However, more Flexibility in terms of “making sure that users can control the reviews they write” (Portability and Sharability) are still being worked on and understood to be “fundamental” components.

For the reasons already outlined above, the showcase products and collaborations that Notches is producing, each in their own right, are a Modular Innovation simultaneously making Notches’ platform more Utilizable as well as Convenient to experience from various alternate services and products (including mobile devices).

Notches makes a very good showing within all of the core categories that make up Modular Innovation, especially Interoperability; which bodes well as Notches strives to build a successful, self-sustaining product with the supporting “community delivering incredible user-centered tools and reviews.”

Watching Notches

The origin of the company’s name comes from the basic premise that one item is always a notch above or below another — there is no tieing when it comes to Notches.

It is in this competitive spirit that Notches is attacking its market, its niche, potentially even paving the way for more business entrants within the microformat space, and creating a world within which “users should not have to look at multiple review sites anymore.”

Just as exciting as it is to observe a new company entering the growing wave of Modular Innovation, it will also be interesting to watch Notches as they grow and advance.

Go and try out Notches today (here and here) & enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy


  1. Buzzillions is the aggregated result of PowerReviews, but those reviews are not further processed through normalization and summarization technologies like Notches does. Reviews from Notches get processed and ‘enhanced’ through its platform algorithms to give you, what you might call, ‘reviews+’.


  2. Hey guys,

    This looks interesting but are there any reviews in the system yet? I added the FaceBook app and only see a couple reviews. Maybe you’ve got a database of scraped reviews you’re going to unleash soon though downloading and redistributing the content may be tricky since the content is owned by the retailers themselves.

    I’m not sure where Notches and Buzzillions differ except that we don’t redistribute content. We’re both bringing in quantities of reviews from disparate sources for the benefit of consumers getting better information. Maybe we’re not buzzword compliant but we do strive to provide high quality information from high quality sources to consumers…I swear 🙂

    Cheers, Jim


  3. @Jim,

    One easy thing to point out is you guys are focused on product reviews. Notches supports things like restaurants, people, media, events, etc. We look at independent developers and unfunded startups as our partners right now.


  4. I’ll have to give it a try on FaceBook and see how it is. I have been working on the FaceBook app for 101 Best Places in New Zealand and also and one of our concerns is about negative comments, where they may come from a competitor or may in some way be unfair. I like the idea of reviews and opinions as a way to help businesses lift their game, not just as a way to say something nice or otherwise. The thing with reviews is of course that 10 times as many people are motivated to use a review to complain than are likely to give kudos.


  5. jeremy, this is interesting, wondering if there is a partnership here with petciety. sitter reviews and credibility is huge part of our community and being able to pull from other sources if we can confirm it’s the same identity would be an added benefit for our users.


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