How many times have the words “You definitely should try…” come out of your mouth? Whether it’s to a cousin in town for the weekend, a couple on the street wandering aimlessly in search of a new lunch spot, or to a friend planning the details of a first date, as humans, we are naturally inclined to make recommendations to those around us. But what do we get in return?

For Mike Gibson, founder of the Idaho-based mobile app, Aska, this was a problem that desperately needed solving.

“I want to incentivize, recognize and reward people for referring their favorite local businesses,” said Mike. “Through the app, there is an incentive to give referrals and an incentive for those who take someone up on their recommendation.”

Insert the frantic applause of realtors, hotel front desk workers and bartenders here.

Here’s how it works: The Aska app, available for Apple and Android, is full of local restaurants, bars, salons and more. When referring someone to a favorite local business, the person making the referral selects the business in the app, enters the recipient’s phone number and hits send. The person on the receiving end then gets a text message with the business information and a first-time visitor’s deal ranging from discounts to buy-one-get-one offers, to introductory products. Once the deal is redeemed, the person making the recommendation benefits as well because Aska keeps track of the referrals and, much like a punch card, provides a kickback over time.

Chain restaurants are nowhere to be found in the app, and that’s by design. Aska is hyper-focused on keeping things local or, as Mike calls it, being the anti-Yelp. Using what he learned from a TED Talk by Kimber Lanning, founder of the Local First Arizona Foundation, Mike explains that if only 10% of spending was shifted from national to local companies, the economic impact throughout the United States would be massive.

“Take Slow by Slow here in Boise, for example,” said Mike. “Your money goes to Slow by Slow for a cup of coffee, and their money goes back into other local businesses like paying a graphic designer or accountant, and that in turn goes back into the local economy when that person shops locally.”

This is an example that’s repeated all throughout Idaho communities.

“The friendliness and kindness of Idaho makes this the perfect place for Aska,” said Mike. “The people are willing to engage, they believe in community and the importance of local. It’s extraordinary.”

So, friendly Idahoans, who will you refer next?

Follow Aska on Instagram @askalokal and download the Aska app from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Posted in Commerce, Company Spotlight, Technology