Intimate-City, created by Israeli immigrants, is looking to connect travelers and locals with real time tips and information so users can discover new things and share their own experiences
Theres nothing like sending a postcard to your friends or family when you are on a vacation. “Bonjour from France!” you may say, or “Guten tag from Germany!” Your friends surely appreciate these little cards with beautiful pictures of scenery and a post stamp from a faraway land, but most of the time you return home from vacation before the postcard reaches its destination.
A new Israeli app allows travellers to send postcards over the internet immediately, and while they won’t arrive with that smeared stamp from the local post office, they will give people back home a good idea of what your travels are like, and not just from stock photos taken by professional photographers.
Intimate-City, which launched last month, is looking to redefine how people share and enjoy their travel experiences, from sending postcards, to discovering new sites that may not have made it into the guidebooks. The app includes a postcard tab that lets user make pictures into personalize postcards to send to other users; a passport function that records activities and personalized stamps for every place travelled; and a request for information function where travellers can pose questions to other users, or search previous questions to try to find exactly what they are looking for in any given city.
Share what you want, with who you want
“Intimate-City allows people to expand their world while also keeping it as intimate as they choose,” Intimate-City co-founder Becca Feinstein said. “Especially when we are on vacation, we all like to let our guard down, and enjoy moments that we wouldn’t all want our bosses and parents to see on Facebook or Instagram. Intimate-City allows users to share these special memories as widely or closely as they want, while learning and sharing their experiences with other travelers.”
Feinstein and Joseph Sibony, who both moved to Israel from New York and Guatemala, respectively, created the app after coming to Israel in 2010 on MASA programs, which are mostly volunteer programs funded by the Israeli government to bring Jews to Israel. The two decided to stay in Israel and in 2012 first began discussing what sort of product they could design to help travellers coming to Israel, or other countries. They first thought of creating a private concierge service, but then realized that an app would likely better accomplish their goals.
Along with a development team in Poland, Feinstein and Sibony designed and created the app, which launched April 4. The app is free and available for Android and iOS. Since launch, Intimate City has amassed almost 3,000 users from across the globe in Israel, the U.S., the U.K., and even some in Guatemala, Brazil, India and Angola.
The team is now readying to update the app to include the option to login via email (right now users can only login through Facebook), and hashtag capabilities to allow for easier tagging and searching of topics. Future capabilities are coming as well. Right now the development is being funded by a private investor, who came on board in return for a 10% stake along with the launch last month, but the founders are looking to monetize the app rather than seek further investments.
Right now the postcard section is the most popular function, the founders said. Users can choose how private or public their pictures are so they don’t have to worry about their mothers or bosses seeing them taking that shot at a wild night out. (You then may want your mom and boss to see your next picture of you in front of some famous site.) It also allows users to send photo albums with up to 200 pictures and multiple videos.
Searching out of the books
One of the most useful functions of the app is the request for information (RFI) section, which lets users pose questions to other users and search for previous questions in different categories such as local businesses, outdoors, food, drink, culture, local events and others.
“Each and every city has its own charm and mystique built on hidden cafes, classic tourist destinations, booming nightclub scenes or quiet neighborhood enclaves,” Feinstein said. “The best way to learn about a city and its individual character is to gain knowledge and inspiration from those who have already discovered it.”
While this app is geared for travel, the founders also want users to benefit in their home cities. Sort of like what Yelp does across cities in the U.S., Intimate-City can serve as a portal for users to discover new places at home.
“The goal for the app is that when you walk out of your door you are always travelling,” Feinstein said, noting that in her home city of New York no matter how long she lived there, she could always discover new places.
“People get into a routine, they go to the same places. We want people to never stop exploring,” Sibony added.