Canadian Startup Placeling is Living Life in the Slow Lane

by John Gray | Startups

Lindsay Watt and Ian MacKinnon are not your typical startup co-founders, hell-bent on feeling the “need for speed."

Graduates of GrowLab’s inaugural cohort, their startup Placeling is embracing to notion of “The Slow Web." The real-time web drives the headlines and grabs huge swathes of our attention. The constant feeds and the deluge of information and data (Twitter, Facebook timeline, tumblr, email) delivers up a significant distractions.

It really begs the question: is the real-time web making us more productive? Maybe more important, is it truly making life more enjoyable?

Rather than a real-time web, Placeling is all about a slow web that’s creating value on quality and experience, rather than velocity and volume. By emphasizing the right information at the right place at the right time, they’re attempting to shift behaviour away from the fire hose of mildly useful information.

We're seeing and embracing applications such Instapaper (letting you read anywhere offline); Summify (delivering email news summaries before their Twitter acquisition); and the PVR (time-shifiting consumption, and obliterating the notion of “date-night” TV); mobile phones and tablets are letting us place-shift consumption. Pinterest certainly validates the overwhelming interest in curating content.

Ian and Lindsay’s decision to navigate the web’s slow lane is all about their love of cities, and travel. Ian would look at old buildings and thought it ridiculous that you had to read a brass plaque on them to know their history. Lindsay liked to visit friends who lived in different parts of the city.

Each would tell him why their neighbourhood was the best and he wanted to be able to remember why. Ian wanted to be able to go to any place in the world and instantly know about it—what his friends had to say about it, what people he respected thought and how locals saw the place. Lindsay was always reading about interesting places (in particular, he was getting tired of clipping the NY Times' 36 Hours series) and wanted a better way to bookmark places he wanted to go.

Has any of the following ever happened to you?

  • You hear about a place and think “I really want to remember this for a future trip."
  • You visit somewhere and want to share it with your friends because you know they’d love it.
  • A friend raves about a place and you’d like to recreate the same experience they had.

Placeling lets you easily do all of these. Placeling is focusing on making travel more fun.

With Placeling's Wordpress plugin blogs can be turned into an iPhone-Enabled City Guide. Blog posts appear in Placeling's iPhone app and can be embedded in a map on your blog. Placeling is enabling fans and readers to see nearby places you've written about. 

The team is now rolling out Placeling Weekender. For Placeling members, there’s a new weekly email with recommendations on places to go and people to guide you—and a guarantee they won’t recommend something that’s already on your map.

Inspiration comes in many shapes, sizes, and sources. Lindsay is quick to credit Jack Cheng’s blog post “The Slow Web” as a seminal work. Cheng posits the notion: “Timely not real-time. Rhythm not random. Moderation not excess. Knowledge not information. These are a few of the many characteristics of the Slow Web. It’s not so much a checklist as a feeling, one of being at greater ease with the web-enabled products and services in our lives.”

The Placeling mantra might well be, “we're making cities more fun to live in," but the might more importantly be about slowing down and smelling a few roses along the way too.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Our mobile app and website makes it effortless to share the places you love and endlessly explore the world based on the experiences of others. more

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John Gray

John Gray

John jumped into the startup world in early 2009, bringing his experience in business development and sales to companies creating new software products. He was co-founder and CEO of Mentionmapp, a visual analytics company that was acquired by OverInteractive Media in October 2011. Before that, he sold legal software and services (LexisNexis), medical devices (Auto Control Medical) and... more

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