Locals have always taken pride in knowing where to find the best of everything in their respective cities. Whether it’s the best dry-cleaning or the cheapest dumplings, there’s a pleasure attached to accumulating knowledge based on years of experience, thereby building a personal library of information. Urbandig, a new app co-created by Maura Rodgers just released for New York City, hopes to share that wealth with everyone by creating guides made by those very locals.
“Urbandig is an app that delivers off-the-beaten-path city experiences right to your iPhone,” Rodgers said. “Designed for locals, travellers, and voyeurs, our guides are curated by passionate subject matter experts, who meticulously research and handpick each place to include in their guides.” Rodgers came up with the novel idea while she was in her home city of Los Angeles. She realized that the recommendation market was inundated by crowd-sourced reviews, but none from people that she could actually trust. “We just wanted someone we trusted to tell us where to go and what to do when we got there. After sketching out the idea on a whiteboard and doing some research, the ball was set in motion.” A mere two months after that brainstorming session, Urbanig for LA was available for download from the App Store.
The process for finding trustworthy curators was easy in LA, since Rodgers and her team already lived there. Urbandig’s editor, Danielle Lehman, and Rodgers’ co-founder, Mike Macadaan, could check out many of the recommended spots before the app went live. It wasn’t quite so easy for the New York version. Since none of the founders lived in the city, they had to find scouts and curators from afar. “Our New York scouts, Erica Schwartzberg and Clay Hebert, are passionate about the problem Urbandig solves and call New York home. After they came on board, they went out of their way to find great curators such as Gawker's Leah Beckmann and Food Republic's Matt Rodbard, who share our passion for delivering authentic and unique local experiences that hopefully, other New Yorkers as well as visitors will love.”
People can become curators in their cities and create their own guides by sending Rodgers and the Urbandig team an email (at firstname.lastname@example.org) with their contact information, the city they live in, a brief biography, links to blog posts that they’ve written, and the subjects their areas of expertise, such as food, drinks, city gems, and city history. As of right now, Urbandig is only available for Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver, and San Francisco, but expansion plans are in the works. “We are working on rolling out in many more cities over the next few months including Portland, DC, Chicago and Austin. We also hope to have an Android app ready to go in early 2012.”
As Urbandig continues to grow, the possibilities are limitless. Even in the smallest of towns, there are places that are beloved by locals and unknown to visitors. Urbandig has started with the broadest of North American cities, but there’s no reason why it can’t expand to less famous cities that have even deeper buried treasures. As long as there are sacred little-known places around the world to show to a mass population, Urbandig will keep excavating with success.