Mitch Hills wants people to be more spontaneous and do more, so he created an app. The free AroundAbout app offers handpicked suggestions for people to eat, drink and do in major cities around Australia, and now New Zealand too. Launched on March 7 this year on iOS (and for Android in June), AroundAbout covers Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth in Australia and just launched in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in New Zealand.
Dubbed ‘Tinder for Tourism’, AroundAbout is a random activity generator app using that well-known swiping technique where users tap on ‘Eat’, ‘Drink’ or ‘Do’ and swipe right to ‘like’ or swipe ‘left’ to pass on suggested venues in your vicinity. The 20-year-old, Brisbane-based app designer believes AroundAbout is a new and exciting way to explore a city.
“It’s literally Tinder for eating, drinking and exploring!” he enthuses. "Imagine everyone on [Tinder] was gorgeous and they all matched with you - that’s what this app does. All great food, places – they’re all tens – and all great and handpicked.
“We want people to stop reading about it, stop thinking about it, and just go out and see the world.”
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While originally targeted at tourists, Mitch has found it’s mainly locals in Australia who are using the app in their own city or for domestic travel, with an even split of males and females swiping on suggestions on the go. The ‘Eat’ option is the most popular section so far (“it’s something people do daily and the easiest and cheapest thing to do”), with carefully curated and aesthetically appealing images selected by the AroundAbout entrepreneur and team themselves.
Feedback for the app has garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews so far, according to Mitch, with demand for AroundAbout in more areas. Mitch has his sights set on launching the app in the USA next, with New York as the main catalyst for his entry into the competitive app market.
“New York City is the main reason I had my eyes set on the USA, because it’s such an exciting city,” he explains. “It also has 20 million international and domestic tourists aged 18 to 35 per year in the one city alone. It’s a competitive market, but it would be awesome to reach so many more potential people."
On this busy entrepreneur’s travel wish list? While his self-proclaimed inner nerd can’t wait to go to California's Silicon Valley, Mitch is also keen to spend a week on a yacht, and Greece, Paris and Singapore are also high on his list. Despite his hectic schedule, creating AroundAbout has also encouraged Mitch to be a tourist in his own backyard.
“Before doing this app, I didn’t go out a whole lot, so I was never on sites like Urbanspoon or Yelp. You don’t realise how much stuff there is around you, and how good they are. There are some awesome restaurants and cafes in Brisbane, and AroundAbout is great for discovering them. Using the powerful imagery is a great way for people to get more involved too – it’s hard to turn down an epic photo of pancakes!”