New online startup helps people recommend favorite businesses

LINDEN HILLS — A new local startup is operating on the premise that there is nothing we trust more than a friend’s recommendation.

Heroic Inc.’s new website allows people to sign in through Facebook and recommend their favorite bike shops, plumbers and auto repairmen. The site is, and the baseline service is free for users and businesses.

“We found in speaking with hundreds of people throughout the Twin Cities that they live and die by their referral business,” said cofounder Dan Linstroth, who has a background working for English schools in Latin America. “Many people are awesome at what they do, and they’re trustworthy and honest, but they’re not the best marketers.”  

Couple that with the stat that 90 percent of people trust recommendations from people they know, and the idea for Heroic was born.

“The power of a personal recommendation has to do not just with trust, but adds a layer of context that star ratings cannot do,” Linstroth said.

An early version of the business was borne out of café conversation between Linstroth and his friend Justin Barrett, who previously founded an organic clothing company. The coffee launched a seven-hour meeting, two additional partners, and months where the founders locked themselves inside a house to build the company. The other partnersinclude Ethan Otterlei, who created the bike rental site, and Reed Robinson, who previously started the U-Suits company while at the University of Minnesota, making covers for iPods.

As an extra incentive to post recommendations, Heroic periodically hosts special events like its prelaunch party at Fulton Brewery. They’re envisioning summer parties with bike mechanics working outside.

“The first [connection] happens online, but really what it’s used for is building offline transactions,” Linstroth said. “It’s different than a normal social network.”