When thousands of fans arrive in San Francisco next month to hear Paul McCartney, Vampire Weekend and Willie Nelson at the Golden Gate Park, each fan will have a local guide to the City by the Bay.
Austin startup Localeur — as in, connoisseur of local — is launching Aug. 1 in San Francisco, its third city in five months, in time for the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival.
Unlike other online travel guides, Localeur recruits locals to provide recommendations to dining, neighborhoods, nightlife and activities favored by locals — particularly those favoted by Millennials (folks in in their 20s and 30s.)
“We want to be more than a tech company,” said Chase White, co-founder and president of Localeur.” We want to be part of the local scene.”
Joah Spearman, co-founder and CEO, adds: “We want to live what we are doing.”
Travis Devitt, a senior analyst at an Austin hedge fund, likes what Localeur is doing enough that he has been willing to invest in the company personally. At Teton Capital Partners, Devitt led public market investments in TripAdvisor, Expedia and Priceline.
“Given the high value ascribed to companies such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, we know that providing helpful information to people can be a very valuable business,” Devitt said.
Devitt, who fits the target demographic, is also a fan of what Localeur does.
“When I go to San Francisco, I don’t want to eat at Applebee’s in Fisherman’s Wharf,” he said. “I want to find the restaurant that just opened two months ago that the hip 20- 30-something locals are buzzing about.”
It’s been a busy five months for the company.
Localeur launched in March in time for Digital Trends to name it one of the reviewer’s favorite apps at the South By Southwest Interactive festival. Google asked Localeur to provide content for its Google Field Trip.
In June, Localeur expanded to Houston; the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce named it one of the city’s top start-ups; and the W Hotel and Massage Envy signed on as advertising clients.
Spearman said the company has raised $325,000 from angel investors, including Chris Shonk of Liahona Ventures; Joe Ross, president of CSID, an identity security firm; Ken Cho, co-founder of Spredfast, a social media company; Clayton Christopher, founder of Sweet Leaf Tea and Deep Eddy Vodka; and Terry Lickona, executive producer of Austin City Limits.
Another investor is Mick Batyske, a New York-based deejay and mixtape composer, formerly known as “Mick Boogie,” who has worked with Jay Z and deejayed for NBA star LeBron James.
Mick, as Batyske is now known professionally, will deejay a Localeur party during the Outside Lands festival.
“We are bringing some value to the city and not just leveraging their local scene,” White said.
Timing the San Francisco launch with a music festival copies the company’s launch at SXSW in Austin.
A huge crowd of visitors is a built-in audience for a company that promises to tell them where to go and what to see as locals would.
Spearman said Localeur spreads by word-of-mouth on social media.
Traffic to Localeuer’s website has quadrupled since the first week of April, Spearman said. Half of the users come to Localeur via tablets or smart phones (an iPhone app is being developed). Half of the traffic comes via Facebook or Twitter.
The company has 35 “localeurs” — Spearman and White don’t call them bloggers or writers — in Austin, 25 in Houston and at least 20 for San Francisco.
The company has hired its first staffer — a marketing director but it isn’t profitable yet.
Spearman said Localeur is looking for another $325,000 from angel investors as the company prepares to launch in New York City next.
Devitt said Localeur should be able to find its place in a worldwide travel industry.
He pointed to Google’s recruitment of Localeur to be a content provider.
“That is great validation considering Localeur is less than six months old,” Devitt said. “I am confident Localeur is doing some unique things and can carve out a very valuable business in this space.”