How do you find online information about local businesses? I typically use Google Maps, Dex Online or just Google to search for local business information.
But iBegin Source might soon steal my - and your - attention as people add information about businesses where we live.
Launched March 15, iBegin Source explains itself thus:
"This site is a wiki for local business data (YellowPages). We offer a free download (non-commercial license) or a commercial license for local business data. Our data is constantly updated. Our commercial license is only $1000 an entire state, and only $40,000 for the entire US."
They've got 10,820,477 total business listings and counting. Not too shabby.
Yes, you could just grab a phone book - but if you've got the Web, this could be a great source of more complete, up-to-date information. Plus, if you're on the go, you could use iBegin to get info about local businesses or places to eat, for example.
The commercial license includes geo-coded addresses (i.e. GPS coordinates) that include the nearest major intersection (highly useful!).
iBegin itself is a pretty nifty user-driven local search site offering any kind of local data you could want - pictures, restaurants, businesses, etc. The system also works as a social network, so that you can be notified about what your friends are up to.
The downside is that only four cities are currently loaded into iBegin - but what's there is definitely an encouraging start. See Toronto, for example - you've got live traffic information (mashup with Google Maps), restaurants, and a bunch of other busines listings. You can update each listing, too - for example, review the Cafe Crepe restaraunt in Toronto. Or even see the list of users.
The iBegin team should post their photos and profiles to their corporate blog (feed) and site so we can all see the wizards behind this new magic. Speaking of the iBegin blog, it's very bare and simple, but at least it's updating regularly and is easily found via the site home page. It also has a nice conversation going on right now re: the launch. (80-plus Diggs too!)
Contact iBegin if you're curious to learn more.