By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Yelp is a web site that offers user-reviews of restaurants and other businesses, and is perhaps more known for their mobile app that also adds geo-mapping to see what options are close to the user. While a major player in the U.S. for years, Yelp has now been making a splash in Brazil largely with the help of American expatriate in Rio, Monica Silvestre.
Yelp was founded in San Fransisco, California (U.S.) in 2004, expanded throughout Europe and Asia and went public in March 2012. As of 2014, Yelp.com has 135 million monthly visitors and 71 million reviews globally.
Described as the 800-pound guerrilla by PC Word in 2012, writing, “After Google, Twitter, and Facebook, Yelp is arguably the Internet company next in line to have its name converted into a verb. If you want to find a restaurant, a plumber, or even a lawyer, Yelp probably has you covered.”
Monica Silvestre is Director of Marketing for Yelp Latin America and explained, “Yelp has been available in Brazil since August 2013. When we launched, we offered the site and app all over the country, and in November 2013 we kicked our Rio efforts into high gear when we hired Gabriele Jimenez, our Yelp Rio de Janeiro Community Manager.”
Silvestre herself has been in Brazil for a year and a half and explains, “I relocated to Brazil specifically to grow Yelp in Latin America. I’ve been in Rio since February and before that I was living in São Paulo for about a year. […] Prior to moving to Brazil, I was running Yelp in the Southeastern United States managing a team of Community Managers in Florida, the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama. I was asked to head up our growth efforts in Latin America with Brazil as our first stop (then came Mexico, Argentina and Chile).”
While not providing specific numbers about the web site or app user penetration, she shares that “Brazil has been incredibly receptive to Yelp and our community has grown ten-fold. […] Comparatively speaking, the community in Rio is really interesting because of the strong foreigner population. While a majority of the people yelping in Rio are Brazilian (and reviewing in Portuguese), we also have a nice group of expats that write in English and attend the events.”
Silvestre explains, “Our ultimate goal is to make Yelp an indispensable tool that people use to navigate throughout their daily lives. Whether it’s finding a chaveiro via the app at 3AM, digging up a great dog walker or finding that cool bar in Morro da Babilônia, we’re trying to help make people’s lives easier, more interesting, and above all, more fun. Whatever you’re looking for, we are building a trusted resource to help you find a solid experience.”
For the future, Ms. Silvestre and Yelp are looking to expand into new areas of business. “Our strategies have always been about bringing the online community offline. That’s why you might see us hosting lots of events in the city. We’re all about connecting people to great local businesses.”
“Down the line, you’ll be able to use Yelp as more than a review site and app. In addition to finding the reviews, you’ll also be able to transact (like order food delivery directly from the app, send flowers from a local florist, book an appointment with a well-reviewed doctor or dentist, or even reserve a spa treatment).”