Every city has a soul, and it's possible to convey that soul to travelers via an app. Support us while we capture the soul of New York.
In my former life as a management consultant, I traveled constantly, averaging 4-5 days per week, returning to New York for the weekends.
Being an early adopter of everything Apple, I've used my iPhone and all the apps on it to obtain travel-related information on the go – like most people, I use my iPhone to check flight schedules, book a table for dinner, or use a city guide app to find out about cool places to visit in a new city. And that's how I realized that we could do so much better than the current city guide apps, and decided to launch the innovative app called SoUL. So, last year, I quit my job and focused on building a team that would develop SoUL.
The idea behind SoUL is simply this: we want to help turn travel into a meaningful, in-depth experience, because we believe traveling is a life event that should be memorable.
SoUL NYC app aims to create an emotional connection between the traveler and New York, through an innovative concept we call Cinematic Walks.
Personally, every time I'm in a foreign city with a limited amount of free time, I try to have an authentic experience, because that will be something that stays with me. For example, on my first day in Buenos Aires, I hired a dancer to give me a tango lesson. We traveled by bus to a residential area, where the class was held in a beautifully ornate building that probably dated back to the nineteenth century. I still remember how, in each room we passed, I could see people moving fluidly to the pulse of the Argentine music, dressed in fantastic, colorful costumes. And when I went to Paris for the first time, I almost climbed up on a theater stage during a rehearsal before the stage manager was able to stop me, because a few minutes earlier I had been walking in an alley and heard some music and decided I had to find out where it was coming from. These are some of the memories I will never forget, and I'm sure you have yours... So, when we designed SoUL, we decided that discovery and surprise would be two essential attributes of our app.
The other understanding I've gained from my travels is how important it is to know a local. But it has to be the "right" local, because not just any local is good enough. The "right" local offers you perspectives and tells you things you'll never find out from reading a book or using another app. Traveling with the "right" local can be very inspiring. So, when we designed SoUL, we decided that we would include a number of knowledgeable, interesting, "right" locals in our app.
Let's talk about what all that means in terms of developing an app.
SoUL combines discovery, surprise, and the local perspective in our app, through the concept we call a Cinematic Walk.
A cinematic walk is a sound experience that takes place in a neighborhood as you walk through it. It's essentially a neighborhood narrative. When you listen to a cinematic walk as you stroll through a specific neighborhood, you'll get a perspective unlike anything else. The knowledge and perspectives of the locals who guide you from street to street will allow you to absorb things that you'd most likely not be able to find on your own. The characters surprise you with facts, stories, music, and sound effects so that you feel as if you're part of a movie that’s happening all around you. Your eyes become the camera. And you become part of the story.
You can listen to a sample of one of our cinematic walks on Soundcloud, here.
Each cinematic walk takes about an hour and features multiple insightful characters who are both fun and articulate. We call them your "mobile friends." Every cinematic walk is created using tools that the movie industry has successfully applied to convey emotions. So by the end of the cinematic walk, you not only get to know a neighborhood, but you also develop a feeling about it. You're connected.
We launched SoUL Istanbul as an iPhone app last summer and received a great deal of praise. As of this writing, we are among the Top 10 apps for those searching for "Istanbul" in the U.S. App Store.
SoUL NYC will leverage the same elements as in our SoUL Istanbul app (five cinematic walks, neighborhood recommendations, short lists of venues, local activities, and more). As we work on its development, the app will be further enhanced to deliver an even better experience than the current prototype.
As you can appreciate, producing Cinematic Walks isn’t cheap. Production costs cover fees for production managers, researchers, writers, screenwriters, photographers, voice actors, models, musicians, sound designers, UI and UX designers, as well as app developers. All of the funds we raise on Kickstarter will be used to cover a significant portion of the cost.
Please also note that our current Kickstarter campaign is for a SoUL NYC iPhone app. If we exceed our goal we will add a stretch target for an Android version of SoUL NYC.
In addition to our core team, we are in the process of identifying writers, actors, and additional cast and crew members for the production of SoUL NYC.
We have some terrific gifts for our supporters, including spending a day with us in New York taking a Cinematic Walk. So please check our pledge section to see what we offer to our supporters. Let us know if you have ideas that we should consider adding! Thanks for your support!
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We currently have three iPhone apps (SoUL Istanbul in two languages, and SoUL Topkapi) in the App Store. They're delighting their users, and they’re approved by Apple. SoUL NYC will be an improved version of SoUL Istanbul, but operate similarly to its predecessor, so we don't see much risk there.
Our biggest challenge is developing the Cinematic Walks as they are produced like a movie, and as you can imagine, there are a lot of moving parts in a production like that. There may be delays in writing the screenplays, producing the music, finding the right voices and putting everything together. Having said that, we’re experienced and successful – we've done it multiple times before and we can do it again. You can be sure that we're going to make every effort to deliver you the app – for one of the greatest cities in the world – by our target delivery date.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.