Sarasota company Yoddle hopes to create a buzz on college campuses

This weekend Sarasota businessman Joe Grano will be watching Florida State University students using a new mobile phone app he hopes will catch on and be the next technology success.

Yoddle, a GPS-based social networking app, will be introduced on the college campus by college reps who will work with groups like fraternities and sororities to demonstrate how to create “scenes” and “meetups” with their friends and acquaintances. University of Florida students will test out the app in a few weeks, Grano said.

Two developers of the software app approached Grano, president and founder of Next-Mark, a marketing solutions company, about investing and promoting the product.

“We were able to do all the branding and communications around it,” Grano said.

Part of the promotion were viral film projects, where a winning filmmaker would receive $5,000 by creating a video buzz for Yoddle.

Ironically, the winner was a Sarasota company, Mars Vision Production, that crafted a 90-second film showing off the social networking aspect of Yoddle via an alpine-looking character partying at the World of Beer on University Parkway.

“I was the director and I nailed it,” said Mark Palmer, owner of the independent film company. “We created a character that was bizarre and memorable. He’s the coolest yoddler ever.”

The yoddler was played by Dylan Jones, a freelance actor from Bradenton.

Private investors — including some from Bradenton — are supplying the six-figure funding for Yoddle along with Grano.

He is hoping the innovative approach to social networking will boost Yoddle’s use.

“This is real-time communication,” Grano said, explaining that the popular networking foursquare app is more of a “snapshot of one point in time.

“Ours is about a community conversation that is going on,” he said.

The mobile app is now available for free downloads on the Apple app store. There also is a vernacular associated with Yoddle, that was part of its marketability, Grano said.

“That was critical,” he said.

GPS-social networking apps have been popular for the past few years, said Mark Zeitler, chief technology officer and partner of Accrisoft Corp. in Sarasota.

He wasn’t familiar with Yoddle but said “there are so many competing applications, there has to be a compelling reason to use it.”

People, particularly the young, enjoy having a mobile social component either for dating purposes or meeting up with people who have similar interests, he said.

“The whole idea of social networking is the future,” Zeitler said. “There are still millions to be made in it.”

Yoddle is expected to be available for Android phones in the near future and eventually even PCs, Grano said.

Joseph S. Grano, Jr., has a record of success providing vision and strategic direction to organizations experiencing rapid growth and change. He is one of those rare individuals who have made a successful transition from corporate leader to entrepreneur and owner of his own growing company.