Joe Sayaman and Peter Cortez are co-founders of Mizaplas. They collaborated with Kacper Sulisz of InFullMobile and Robert Przepiórski to conceive and create Citydoping NYC.
Trust the hook-up
All the partners in the app travel a great deal for both work and fun, and we’re all very similar when we travel. We’re the kind of people who would rather rent on AirBnB instead of staying at a hotel. Having friends in most places we visit, we often go off their recommendations for the most authentic, local, “non-touristy” experience. The same can be said about friends that visit us in NYC. We usually receive tons of texts and emails from friends, but keeping track of all those loose threads is a pain. Citydoping NYC ($2.99) streamlines this process. All friends have to do is download the app, and all our favorite NYC spots are at their disposal.
Only the good stuff
We didn’t want to over-think Citydoping, but we also didn’t want to just give visitors a bunch of random places. Peter and I have lived in NYC a combination of 18 years and have many favorites. After we consulted with our friends and created a long list of potential venues, we began to narrow down based on the following criteria:
1) Would we and our friends actually hang out at these places on a Thurs, Fri, Sat?
2) Do we have to wait a ridiculously long time to get a table or drink at the bar?
3) Is it a place that would still sound cool if a visitor were to tell friends back home?
4) Is it low-key enough, but also don’t feel like you’re the only loser there?
The result is a curated list of 100+ restaurants, bars, shops, museums, parks, etc. that pass the “touristy” test.
Everything you put out is only as good as what you put in. That’s true for many things, including apps. We did our research. Not only were we all familiar with tons of non-digital guidebooks from years of traveling, but we audited a number of digital travel apps, sites and guides existing in the market today (i.e. NotForTourist, Lonely Planet, Spotted By Locals, etc.). Many have great content, but we felt many also blended together visually and UX-wise. They shared lackluster design, mediocre photos, inconsistent navigation and came across as lots of work.
Our goal was clear - simplify and stand out. We felt our content was great, and we wanted to present it in a way that would make someone ask, “Yo, what app are you using?” We enlisted photographer, Kamil Krajewski, to make people jealous they weren't at these venues right now. When it came to visualizing the app, it’s funny, because the design and UI was inspired by Windows phone. Yikes! We know - an iPhone app inspired by Windows - blasphemy! But even the biggest Apple fanboy has to admit the Windows visual design is pretty brilliant. However, we weren’t really in love with Windows-like transitions and opted for a smoother “wave” animation. Having elongated rectangular shapes instead of squares lent itself to a slicker transition and surfacing more information. After a few design explorations, Citydoping was born.
In an effort to further simplify, we decided to only have the most basic information available to get visitors there - phone number, website, address, description. The maps are all available offline for our international travelers. You can add venues to favourites as a nod to dog-earing old guide books. That's really it.
While we mostly build in iOS first, it's evident we like to play with other platforms. Citydoping is a great example of how cross-pollination between the two can sometimes lead to beautiful results. We’re starting out with NYC, because what’s that saying - if you can make it in NYC, you can make it anywhere! Citydoping Warsaw will be out later this year. We hope to follow them up with a few other Citydoping editions to help folks get high on all cities.
Feel free to send us a note with any questions or feedback.
About the Author
Joe Sayaman is an Advertising Creative and along with Peter Cortez, co-founded Mizaplas. Uhhhhh...what's that? Well, we both love to eat and chefs are one of the most organized people in the world. Mise-en-place is their term for having everything “in its place”. Once you have all the ingredients in order, your kitchen can work as a well-oiled machine - prepared for any literal or metaphorical fires in the kitchen. The same philosophy can be translated to building apps. So much so that we named our digital production company, Mizaplas. We feel that if you have all the right partners (ingredients) in place, you can build apps efficiently and beautifully despite any roadblocks or metaphorical fires you may experience along the way. For Citydoping, as well as our other products -- Sara Jenkins' New Italian Pantry, B-Bot, Sun Noodle -- we owe their success to having talented collaborators mis-en-place.