Animated Media makes Queen Street businesses discoverable through its neighbourhoods app
Twelve years living in Toronto’s vibrant Queen West neighbourhood made it the perfect proving ground for husband and wife duo Chris and Lisa Brady’s Neighbourhoods App connecting Torontonians to hyperlocal events and businesses. Now they’re planning to roll it out city-wide.
A neighbourhood can change a lot over the course of a decade but it can also change a lot in a week. That’s why Toronto startup Animated Media developed the Neighbourhoods App, a hyperlocal app that gathers relevant event and special offers for local businesses keeping Torontonians in the know.
And Queen West and the surrounding Fashion and Entertainment districts have proven to be the perfect testing ground.
“We have lived in Queen West for 12 years and love the area (so) when we looked to create the Neighbourhoods App, we decided to start in a place we know well,” explains Lisa Brady, director of marketing at Animated Media. “It is a diverse community of people and businesses – locals and tourists, new and established businesses.”
The free app, created with simplicity in mind, allows users to select up to three neighbourhoods and download ads for what’s going on and where they can find the latest deals. It was inspired by Lisa and her husband Chris’ own pain points surrounding finding local events that fit their interest.
“I don’t want to spend 15 to 30 minutes searching and scrolling through content on my smartphone,” she says. “I want a quick way to see what is happening around me, decide and then go.”
Chris Brady, founder and CEO of Animated Media and a serial entrepreneur behind seven tech companies, says the app is a vital tool for time-strapped, main street businesses looking to push into the digital realm without large overheads.
For $100 a month, Animated Media will design their app and allow them to swap it once a week. It costs $20 for a simple text ad.
“There's a lot of small technology companies, accountants, digital marketing agencies hiding in the (upper floors) of buildings,” he says. “This digitizes the store, it’s like a sidewalk sign – it brings all of the businesses down to an equal footing by giving them a digital footprint all within one tiny area.”
Currently, the Queen West App has been running around 30 ads a week and boasts a simple on boarding process for business owners with more than 300 businesses listed on it since it launched in 2015.
“We like to call it the BeLocal movement – EatLocal, DrinkLocal, ShopLocal,” adds Lisa. “We think people are happiest when they can support and find whatever they need in their immediate surrounding area.”
But Queen West is just the beginning. Animated Media is looking for on-the-ground influencers, community voices that can help make their neighbourhoods more discoverable, people that see the value in propping up their BeLocal cause – and local entrepreneurs while they’re at it.
“We are enabling Torontonians to support the plentitude of local shops, restaurants and bars and create a thriving atmosphere for connections,” says Lisa.
By Andrew Seale