Praized , a startup that offers a social media app targeted to locally-oriented blogs and sites, is well worth watching. The app allows blogs to easily provide their constituents the ability to rate local businesses, and display the ratings alongside the traditional directory info of biz name, address, and maps.
(Try out their local search engine  to view businesses and ratings.)
Praized was built by some local search veterans from the Yellow Pages Group, and it’s already managed to nab small dribbles of acclaim — most recently, it was named a finalist  in Red Herring’s Canada’s Top 50 Canada award which recognized the year’s most promising private technology ventures in Canada.
While it may be a Canadian company, the technology itself is nationality-neutral and compelling enough to be attracting interest and usage from U.S. developers and companies as well. Indeed, Praized has loaded United States directory listings into their database as well as Canadian businesses.
With the company founded by Yellow Pages Group expatriots, it’s no surprise that they have a formal partnership with that company. Praized has also set up formal partnerships with U.S. companies Yellowbook  and Localeze  as well.
Funded by a mere $1,000,000 seed round by Garage Technology Ventures Canada (and that was in Canadian dollars, right?), the company appears to have achieved a trifecta necessary to set it up for success: (1) compelling/useful product; (2) “vision” – management who *get* how to target a non-saturated market niche; and (3) partnerships with the sorts of companies that can help drive success faster.
Okay, so Praized isn’t really a paradigm-shifting new technology, I know. However, it marries up a few different pieces of functionality smoothly and simply, and targets a local search / social media niche that could drive rapid adoption and distribution. It looks to me like Digg for local search.
(Greg Sterling previously reported about Praized  – check out his post on it.)