MyCityWay Gunning For Foursquare, Yelp, Everything with Version Two

By Erin Griffith , written on March 20, 2012

From The News Desk

You might remember MyCityWay from the attention it generated during NYC's BigApps competition a while back. The company was the first to be seed funded by New York's Entrepreneurial Fund, later picking up an additional $5 million from BMWi Ventures. MyCityWay also took home the prize for best Indian app at TechSparks App4India.

Since then, it has quietly amassed four million users in more than 70 cities around the world.

Soon, MyCityWay will roll out a new version of the app, which its founders hope will make it more integral to users' everyday lives than Foursquare, Weatherbug, Yelp, Ticketfly, Zagat, and Google Maps combined.

Version two is still in development, co-founder Sonpreet Bhatia told me, but a key function includes a dashboard feature that delivers information on every possible piece of a user's life. There are weather and local news. There are event listings based on your interests. There are deals based on your favorite local vendors. Enter your commute one time, and each day you'll see a personalized road and rail report. For New Yorkers, this is the app equivalent of flipping on NY1 on, while you brush your teeth, only custom-tailored to you and (sadly) sans Roger Clark.

"It has all of these sensors, so it's like an urban nervous system," said Bhatia. The current version of the app has become popular with travelers; this version will cater to locals.

Acting as a "relevance layer," MyCityWay aggregates data from more than 120 different information sources including transit schedules, Foursquare tips, and photos of dishes from Foodspotting.

Last year the New York City Marathon used MyCityWay's dining, nightlife, shopping, subway, broadway, tourism, and Empire State Building Lighting Schedule tools to power those functions in its mobile spectator app. The company powered the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade app, too.

Monetization is coming soon, too. MyCityWay will in the coming weeks open the gates for brands to enter the mix through location-based advertising, coupons, deals, and even mobile stores. Still in beta mode, the company has run successful campaigns with Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, Bhatia said.

Last fall the company hired Steve Rowe, Zagat's chief revenue officer, to source ad and ecommerce deals.

Demand from brands has built up since MyCityWay was selected in recent months as a startup partner in ad agency Hill Holiday's Project Beacon initiative. The program chose 12 startups to collaborate and partner with, as it develops mobile and social campaigns for its clients. Participation in the program gives MyCityWay access to high profile Hill Holiday clients, which include Verizon Wireless, Dunkin' Donuts, Major League Baseball, and Chili's.

There is the argument that MyCityWay won't see mass adoption because its interface isn't quite as clean or fun as say, a Foursquare. One place where MyCityWay can beat Foursquare, though, is with usefulness.

We've recently seen Foursquare, now nearing 20 million users, position itself as more of a utility than a game. In the company's new homepage video, the app touts its ability to help you "discover what's nearby" and "save money & unlock rewards" in addition to its initial goal of helping you "keep up with friends." The discovery, money-saving, and rewards pieces, along with dozens of other utilities, have been MyCityWay's goals from the start. The app is useful enough that it will be implemented into the navigation systems of BMWs.

MyCityWay has 15 employees in New York and 35 in India. It also employs experts in each of the 70+ cities, where its app is available.