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Great Little Place: This Crowdsourced Startup Wants to Help the World Find Hidden Gems

Great Little Place: This Crowdsourced Startup Wants to Help the World Find Hidden Gems

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Oct 28, 2011
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02/03/2013

 
 
Everyone knows a “great little place” somewhere, don‟t they? Whether it‟s a little bar off the
beaten track, or a pizza place that escapes the throngs of weekend or tourist crowds, youprobably have somewhere special that you recommend to people in passing conversation.With that in
mind, we thought we‟d take a closer look at
Great Little Place,an online tool thatstarted life as a simple conduit on Facebook for people to share their favorite haunts in London.
“Grea
t Little Place is a guide to the most charismatic, individual and memorable places
around”, says co
-
founder Rich Brown. “Whether that‟s bars, museums, galleries or justsomewhere to go for a wander. And it‟s all powered by an amazing crowd.”
 You may well have heard of these guys before. Not only did they secure third place in therecent Smarta 100 awards
,but their „little & local‟ idea has gone viral and spread into
countlessother cities across the globe.
But before we look any further at where they‟re at and where they‟re going, The Next Web
caught up with Rich to get a little back-story on where they came from.
 
In the beginning…
 
Rich Brown and Rossa Shanks first met at a brand strategy course in 2008, a course that bringstogether people from different advertising creative agencies, and their friendship went fromthere.
“In March 2009 we met up to watch England play brilliantly, for once, and beat France atrugby”, says Rich. “We then got talking about the idea of writing a book which documented allthe great little places in London.”
 Rich and Rossa researched for
several months, then two things happened. “We sent all
-staff e-mails at our respective ad agencies, which made us realize we knew next to nothing compared
to the collective ideas of many people”, says Rich. “And then Facebook groups such as 
Can thissausage roll get more fans than Cheryl Cole? were taking off. If we made a page that appealedand would spread virally, we would have our ma
rket and our research tool in one place.”
 
On February 10th, 2010, they created the Facebook Page “I know this great little place inLondon…” in the build up to Valentine‟s Day, to which they invited all their friends, and
bought the domain namegreatlittleplace.com,with one eye on future expansions beyond the
realms of Facebook…
 
40,000 fans in two weeks
“Within days we had thousands of fans”, says Rich. “And in two weeks we had 40,000, sharing
an
incredible array of finds. People really seemed to get the idea.”
 But then, they started receiving a deluge of emails from around the world asking if they could
start similar Facebook Pages for different cities. “We wanted to be sure we weren‟t„copycatted‟”, says Rich. “So we started setting them up all over the world, and got localadministrators to do what we‟d done: invite their friends, clear spam, and talk to people so theyenjoyed the page and wanted to come back.”
 
 
As it happens, Great Little Place has long outgrown its London roots and now constitutes aplethora of Pages covering everywhere from Moscow and Muscat, to Bangkok and Bucharest
 – 
 
not bad going at all. To find a GLP near you, simply type „Great Little Place‟ and then your city
of choice in
to Google, and you‟ll likely find the respective Facebook page near the top of the
results.Two weeks after launch, Rich and Rossa created a blog with a newsletter subscription service, listing t
he best of the best, knowing that they‟d need to get people onto their platform. “We hada market, so we then brought them a product”, continued Rich. “We turned our Facebook pageinto a research tool. We‟d ask a question, such as „Where‟s your favorite beer garden?‟, then
follow up and write up the results as a newsletter. We became a crowdsourcing platform, and
we‟ve been writing up „the best‟ ever since. We‟re now on our 36th newsletter.”
 Rich and Rossa ran two London events in 2010, to help spread the g
ood word. “Both turned outto be amazing fun with a brilliant crowd”, says Rich. “We then spent the last few months of 
2010 planning and wire-framing the new site. The major challenge to overcome was how wewould enable editorial control of user-generated
content.”
 
So they crowdsourced a team of 10 writers from a single tweet they sent out, and it‟s them who
now compose many of the reviews on the GLP website.
Money talks: Crowdfunding £10,000
With any
startup, the issue of money soon becomes an issue, even if bootstrapping is how itinitially gets off the ground. And in April this year, Rich and Rossa set out to secure some much
needed funds. “We knew we needed investment to get a decent product out”, says Rich. “Given
it was the crow
d that helped us grow, we thought we‟d see if we could do it financially as well.
We managed to raise £10k  
from 373 investors, without having to give equity away.”
 So, without equity, what was in it for the donators? Well, each contribution received a reward.Invest £10 and they receive a thank-you e-mail, with their name credited on the website. Theywere also entered on a priority e-mail list for all GLP events, which means they get first refusal

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