Interview with Metroseen's Mark Montalbano
Local information is a tough space within which to launch a business, both because of the minimal barrier to entry and the limited demand, but Colorado native Mark Montalbano thinks he's got a unique angle on the problem. To learn more about how he envisions Metroseen and his expansion, I interviewed him, the results of which are this blog post...
A: In a nutshell, Metroseen is a hub where people can see local spots come alive through rich and engaging videos. So, normally you might look online for inspiration on where to eat or shop and get some reviews about the place, but what we instead want is to take you inside and give you the experience of these places. We're showing you things you may have never known: WHO the owner is, what drives them to do what they do, what's hot and exciting there.
We want to show you the closeup shot of your pizza bubbling with intensity in the wood oven and about the owner who studied just outside of Naples, the story behind the local bakery owner who accidentally created a unique and popular scone, and show you real artistry in action.
We want to give you the experience of the place before having ever been there and an intimate view of the business, so that by the time you're finished watching the video you'll hopefully want to pay that place a visit. Add all the local spots together under one hub and you've started telling the story about our local community.
That's just the video side of things. I'm very involved with helping market the companies that get involved with Metroseen, primarily through social media. What's interesting is that the businesses that are on Metroseen also start taking interest in each other. There's a sense of community being created within Metroseen which goes a long way.
Q: Are you focused just on Boulder, Colorado, or the Denver/Boulder metro area?
A: As of now, we're focussing on Boulder. There's a bigger plan, or hope, to take this to other cities throughout the United States, but we know that the concept needs to get bigger here in Boulder... and Denver first.
Q: Does your business scale? That is, if someone from, say, St. Louis wanted to do something similar, would they license your concept or do you plan on expanding to more cities yourself?
A: In the near future, when I feel that we're ready, we want to do the same thing in other cities ourselves to help their local stories. I love the idea of getting to know each city's unique personality, so we would really like to expand out. Ideally, we'll work with locals who are experts in their metro area to help create that market.
What I think is attractive about working with Metroseen is that you'll get the power coming from a larger, more popular hub that showcases multiple places and communities. So, someone in Portland, OR will benefit from the popularity of Metroseen coming out of Boulder.
Q: Mobility is a huge piece of geolocation information. Do you have an iPhone or Android app?
A: I would love to have an app for smart phones! I've been so focussed on building other aspects of Metroseen, but the original plan has always included this as a future goal. It really makes sense because people now have the ability to use phones as entertainment and navigation devices. So, I would love to make an entertaining navigation app!
When I'm able to include location recognition and a larger address database of places all around (not just those with videos), then there would be more reason to have an app.
Q: Where'd the idea for Metroseen come from, Mark?
A: It was a napkin idea! Literally. I was at a local coffee shop chatting with a friend who made a couple of online commercials for a place in Denver. But these videos were to be used as promotional videos that would live only on the business' webpage.
It's a great idea, but the problem I saw with this was that you would already have to know of the business in order to find its video... I would most likely already be interested in going to the place, so the question was, "How do I get people interested in a place they've never heard of".
There was one more thing that I had an issue with... I personally can't stand commercials. It seems like a contradiction, but it's not. Commercials bore me, sometimes insult my intelligence, and I just never get inspired to go shop somewhere just because they have some items on sale. So the other question was how do you help get businesses known without coming across as cheesy?
In addition, not everyone has a website to put a video on. In fact, the very coffee shop we were in didn't. Where would they even put a video?
That's when fireworks went off! What if you could make videos that were not commercials, but more like stories, then host them all on one spot? You would build a community of places that anyone could go visit. In fact, chances are good that you would accidentally come across Metroseen. You might stumble across one place because you did a search online and found another. The idea that one business' video, or profile page, might inspire someone to check out other businesses really excited me because there's enormous potential to create community at its best. Personally, I think it's fun and exciting!
Thanks for your informative answers, Mark!
Posted by Dave Taylor at October 6, 2010 2:44 PM
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