Vancity Entrepreneurs: Stay Local

Barcelona is the ultimate place of inspiration for a lot of people as its art, culture, food, nightlife, and architecture are amongst the most vibrant in Europe. There seems to be a small trend of Vancouver entrepreneurs who have visited this magnificent city and drew inspiration to launch ventures focused on city discovery. Recently, new multi-venue social dining startup, Tangoo, first developed its name from there. Now, a Vancouver map and city guide, Stay Local, also thanks Barcelona for some inspiration to develop a map of the city from the locals to the rest of the world. You might remember Stay Local from a great contest we ran over the summer – now the full scoop on their story.

1. Who are you? Tell us about your business/core idea and how it got started.

My name is Dante Phillips and I’m currently running a Vancouver map and city guide called Stay Local. Our goal is to help unveil the city to tourists by giving them a local’s perspective of Vancouver. We also place a strong emphasis on the local and the independent – that’s been very important to us since day one. Stay Local was started back in 2010 during the Olympics by my brother Dario and his friend, Dave Pullmer. While living in Barcelona, they came across a guide that showed them a more underground perspective of the city, which they felt had totally changed their experience living abroad. So, they brought the idea back home to Vancouver in hopes to do the same for visitors staying in their home city. And now here we are, two years later, working to release Volume 4, which will be out later this year. 

2. What’s unique about this map that my mobile Google Maps doesn’t have? Who uses it?

There’s a couple things we got on Google, starting with our design and the visual appeal of the map. That’s all thanks to our creative director, Calen Knauf – check out his stuff, he’s rad. The tangibility of the map also set’s it apart – draw out your route, personalize it for a friend, pin it up on the wall, the possibilities are endless. Another difference is that where as Google Maps acts as the means of getting you where you already want to go, we help you decide. There’s a certain spontaneity to it that we really like. So basically what we do is put together a collection of some of Vancouver’s finest establishment’s for the reader, and in doing so we give them a select list of places to choose from as they explore the city. Because of that, the users of the guide are mainly tourists, that being said, we’ve had a lot of support and positive feedback from locals using the map as well. We encourage locals to pick up a guide and find something new or to let us know what we’ve missed! 

3. Talk about the relationship with independents featured on the map, how do they add an interesting twist?

Yeah, as I said before, it’s very important for us to support the independent. These are the places that make our city the great place that it is – and it’s important to support them, especially as Vancouver makes its transition into a metropolis. As of late, we’ve been seeing major chains bringing their biggest international stores to Vancouver (Topman, Victoria’s Secret, Nordstrom etc.), so for us, we want the people who visit our city to see what’s true to Vancouver, what embodies our culture, to get outside the comfort of the familiar, and to find some hidden gems.

4. What kind of challenges has your team had to face and how have you mitigated them?

I think the biggest challenge we’ve faced and continue to face is keeping up with the changing technologies. We’re old school, we love print and it’s tangibility, but we also need to be able to work across mediums. It’s all about accessibility and usability for the reader so we’ve taken a couple steps in the right direction with the recent launch of our new website, mobile site and also by making the map viewable online. Who knows, you may see a new app from us just in time for your iPhone 6!

5. How does this improve the city of Vancouver? What is the real world problem you’re solving?

As with any city transitioning into a major city, it’s going to (already is) get overcrowded with big chains who are pushing out the little guy. We believe that by supporting the local and independent businesses, we do a small-part in helping keep what’s true to Vancouver, alive and well. Along with that, we help tourists and locals navigate our beautiful city, while learning some history along the way to the destination of the next “spot.” 

6. What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?

I’m new to it myself, but I would say…the value in pursuing your idea should not only be looked at in monetary terms but in the experience to be from gained it, and that especially goes for the young and aspiring entrepreneurs out there. Best of luck!

Vancouver is a fantastic city with so many great things to do and experience – you just need to know where to go. Stay Local is part of that passionate group of individuals committed to engaging Vancouverites with the city. As much as we all love technology, it’s also great to see something not in the digital world provide the same or greater utility from its use. Look out for the next wave of the Stay Local maps to be released in about a months time.

You can follow Stay Local on Twitter and Facebook.

Stay in touch @pauldavidescu

*Vancity Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs or startups that are making Vancouver a better place. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send [email protected] an email explaining why*