(Image courtesy of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership)
A new app wants to have neighborhood institutions be your tour guides of Brooklyn.
It’s called Vamonde, and it’s partnering with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership to publish geotagged histories, stories and experiences for tourists doing walking tours of the borough using their phones as a guide.
“Most city and cultural organizations are getting hammered in digital. If you Google ‘Brooklyn travel guide,’ you’ll go through over 100 results before you find a local org except for NYCGO,” explained Nick Petit, the chief marketing officer at Vamonde. “In between is all for-profit blogs, Expedia, Travelocity. City and cultural orgs can put their content in a place where people are trying to reach it.”
What makes Vamonde unique is that the civic and cultural institutions themselves add content to the app. As an example, the Brooklyn Historical Society has a presentation on how the river has impacted the industry of Brooklyn for when tourists are down at the waterfront called Economic Tides of Brooklyn. The NY Transit Museum has one called From Ferry to Fulton about the first train lines that connected Brooklyn to Manhattan. The company is the work of college professor and designer Anijo Mathew, who teaches at Chicago’s IIT Institute of Design.
“What [cultural organizations] do have is the acumen to write really great stories,” Petit continued. “Our software works like Medium does. It helps format all the pictures. … The idea is that they don’t have to invest in this new software all the time, they just have to put their stories on it.”
Vamonde is being ushered into the Brooklyn market by a cultural institution here, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. Andrew Kalish, the director of cultural development at the organization, explained how the app caught his eye when it was brought to his attention.
“In my previous life, I was head of strategy and development at the Lincoln Center, not exactly resource starved,” he explained by phone. “We were pitched by hundreds of startups that were storytelling apps. … When I met Nick and he showed me what they’re working on I thought it was kind of an ‘aha’ moment.”