(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
When traveling to an entirely new city, the question usually comes up: Where are the local spots? I.e., Forget this touristy trash, where’s the good stuff at?
With Blikkee, cofounders Elan Kotz and Jeffrey Dobin are looking to help get that question answered — by having the advice come from locals themselves.
Blikkee, which is available on iOS, brings a social approach to providing advice about what to see or where to eat on the neighborhood level. Users create a profile that has a picture, areas of expertise and a free tip. Then, anyone can swipe through to find a person who they think may give the best advice. Once there’s a connection made, the two can text about recommendations.
Kotz, who was part of the team that started The Food Market in Hampden, said he and Dobin initially tested the concept with a very low-tech method. They handed out postcards in New York with a number to text for travel recommendations.
“People started messaging us, and said, ‘Hey, I got your card. I’m looking for a great restaurant,'” he said.
For the entrepreneurs, that was a sign — let’s even call it a minimum viable product — that they were onto something.
— Blikkee (@blikkee) November 19, 2016
As Kotz and Dobin developed the app, they continued to gather feedback about what people wanted. They saw an opportunity for users to make some money by charging for advice. Kotz wasn’t completely convinced, so they did a survey and found that people were willing to pay a small amount. When people are on vacation or have per diem for work travel “they don’t mind spending to get what they want,” Kotz said the results showed.
Now the app has an option for users to make some money when they provide the advice along with getting the satisfaction of knowing they sent someone to a good spot.
They launched the app in May at the Collision Conference in New Orleans. A team of about six people are working at the company. Being based in Mt. Vernon, Kotz said it was also important to have Baltimore among the cities where it’s available. The app launched here in April.
“People are coming here for vacation and work and looking to experience it at a real, local level,” Kotz said. “It’s hard to tap into those local spots — and Baltimoreans love to get people to those local places.”-30-
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