Mashup Case Study: Nestoria

John Musser, November 1st, 2007

NestoriaIn this installment of our mashup case study series we speak with Ed Freyfogle, the founder of Nestoria, a property search engine in the UK and Spain. Their service makes extensive use of the Google Maps API and other sources to include richer information about properties and neighborhoods. They are also an example of an “API stack” since they build on top of APIs but also provide an API of their own.

Q: Can you give us a bit of background on Nestoria?

We’re a vertical search engine for the property (real estate as they say in the US) market. We operate in the the UK and Spain. We focus on helping people find exactly the home they want to buy or rent as quickly as possible.

We’re a small team and very technology/data/engineering driven. We have several internet veterans with a background in in websearch (Yahoo), ecommerce (Amazon) and paid advertising (Overture).

Q: What is your business model?

We believe strongly in performance based marketing. Right now that takes the form of pay per click, but could in the future be pay per action.

Q: What APIs did you use and what were the best and the worst aspects of using them?

Users love our integration with Google Maps, and we were used by Google as a case study for their API.

We access the maps via Mapstraction, something I recommend to anyone building a mapping application. It creates an abstraction layer across a variety of mapping APIs.

We mashup all sorts of local data that people might find relevant about a local area. This includes government data from TheyWorkForYou, photos from Panoramio, points of interest from Tagzania and parking data from ParkAtMyHouse.

We’ve also done projects with OpenStreetMap and relied on data from Geonames and New Popular Edition Maps.

We also provide access to our entire database via our own API and provide GeoRSS feeds, widgets and co-branding tools for people to use our results on their site. We also have Facebook applications for both Spain and the UK (we built the first non-English language Facebook app).

Q: What programming languages and tools is this built with?

Our entire site is LAMP – Linux, Apache, MySql, Perl. We chose perl for CPAN which helps us move much faster.

Technically the piece of Nestoria that I think is most interesting is sadly the piece we can’t really show off; We’ve built a very extensive metrics and testing system that allows us to continually monitor and tweak site performance.

Other than that we’re always on the lookout for useful tools to help us. A good example is YSlow that Yahoo! recently released. We were happy to see we scored a 94 out of 100.

Q: Can you tell us about any metrics for this application: traffic, revenue or other?

For the UK, Comscore reported us with 178,000 unique users and in June 114,000. Spain we just launched in mid-May, but Comscore says we had 39,000 in June.

Q: Using third-party APIs is seen by many as introducing business and technology risk. How do view this issue and how do you account for it in your strategy and implementation?

To be honest, we worry about this less and less, as more businesses see the benefits of opening their data and tools. Nevertheless, it is something to be aware of. This is exactly why we sponsored the development of Mapstraction to make it as easy as possible to switch to another mapping service if we were ever forced to switch.

Q: From an API and mashup perspective, what are the main lessons learned from this project and/or is there any advice you’d like to share on the development, design or business side of mashups?

A lot of people are tempted by the technical ease of whipping up a mashup. Building a website and building a sustainable business are two very different things. My advice is to do some real thinking about the value your service provides.

Q: Are there any mashup-related APIs, tools or services that don’t exist today that you’d like to see? (Or, what API would you kill for?)

A working international rss-to-email service and working versions of the TheyWorkForYou API for other countries.

Q: And finally, besides your own service, do you have a favorite mashup?

Here in the UK I think ParkAtMyHouse is a brilliant idea.

A big thanks to Ed for joining us in our case study series.

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5 Responses to “Mashup Case Study: Nestoria”

November 1st, 2007
at 3:34 pm
Comment by: Dawson

Hello Guys/Girls, if there are any developers on here who are excited about getting their hands on the OpenSocial APIs (I know I am!), I have made a website/forum for discussion, would be cool to get a few active members to get the website going http://www.osocial.co.uk/forum/

November 29th, 2007
at 8:17 pm
Comment by: Alt Search Engines » Blog Archive » Interview with Ed Freyfogle, co-founder of Nestoria

[...] giants like the Yahoo User Interface library or Google Maps. We’ve also been very lucky to partner with many local UK and Spanish sites. A lot of start ups are skilled and work hard though, what is it exactly that has allowed Nestoria [...]

June 18th, 2008
at 10:49 am
Comment by: Aplicacion de precios de casas en goolzOOm.com en El Blog de Nestoria - el Buscador de Casas y Pisos más facil de usar

[...] GoolzOOm es un interesante mash-up dentro del mundo online. Especializado en un nicho concreto de mercado, agrupa información del catastro español y del sigpac, el sistema de información geográfica de parcelas agrícolas. Lo complementa a su vez con la inclusion de anuncios de parcelas privadas dentro del territorio español. De hecho, ha salido como mash-up a tener en cuenta en ProgrammableWeb al igual que ocurrió con Nestoria hace unos meses en el que fuimos caso de estudio de la misma. [...]

July 3rd, 2008
at 12:30 am
Comment by: Build Agnostic Map Mashups with Mapstraction

[...] One of the corporate sponsors of Mapstraction is Nestoria, a property search engine in the UK and Spain which we profiled in our mashup case study last year. [...]

July 3rd, 2008
at 1:08 am
Comment by: Dream Incubator » Blog Archive » Build Agnostic Map Mashups with Mapstraction » ドリームインキュベータ

[...] One of the corporate sponsors of Mapstraction is Nestoria, a property search engine in the UK and Spain which we profiled in our mashup case study last year. [...]

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John Musser
Founder, ProgrammableWeb

Adam DuVander
Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.