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Opportunity

Support Neighborhood Businesses By Connecting Them To Residents And Visitors

The City of Boston seeks a partner to develop a novel information technology solution to increase foot traffic in neighborhood businesses.

Instructions
Please answer all questions in this round. You have until Friday, August 23 to submit your final responses. In case you need to review your prior responses, please let us know via email at support[at]startupblvd[dot]com. Good luck.

Overview

The City of Boston seeks a PARTNER to develop a system that encourages people, both visitors and residents, to consider purchasing goods and services from neighborhood businesses.

The three major sponsors of this program, The Department of New Urban Mechanics, The Boston Main Streets Program and the Office of Business Development, imagine a solution that:

  • takes advantage of the City's public infrastructure like bus-stops, T-stations and parks and plazas;
  • harnesses data from the millions of commercial transactions happening daily in neighborhood business; and
  • displays information in an attractive, user-friendly and sustainable manner to increase foot traffic to these businesses.
The organization which proposes the best solution will have the opportunity to establish a long-term relationship with the City of Boston

Description

The Boston Main Street Program is focused on driving foot traffic to neighborhood shops. Whether they are hosting events that attract outside visitors; promoting destination locations or improving the cleanliness and attractiveness of our neighborhoods, Boston Main Streets is fundamentally focused on creating foot traffic to local stores thus supporting a dynamic local economy. Many neighborhood stores rely solely on this foot traffic and word-of-mouth referral to generate sales.

The Goal Is To Boost Commercial Activity In Boston Neighborhoods

The City's primary goal is to create a system that takes advantage of the City's high population density and tourist activity to drive foot-traffic to and commercial activity in neighborhood businesses.

Specifically, the solution must address three goals:
  1. Increase foot traffic and conversion of foot traffic to business sales
  2. Increase awareness of the actual products in our local businesses
  3. Increase awareness of Boston Main Streets districts city wide
The City suspects the final system will include of one or more of the following:
  • Data visualization tools (hardware and software)
  • Data feeds from/to local businesses
  • Information and wireless networks connecting terminals, devices and people
Selected Innovators Will Count With The City's Massive Reach

The City of Boston is prepared to enter into a formal partnership with the innovator offering the best-fit solution. There are tangible benefits from a partnership with the City of Boston. Some of the most attractive ones could include, and are not limited to:
  1. Access to the City's physical plant, such as bus stops, and facilitation for its customization
  2. Investment in hardware components necessary for the deployment of the system, if needed
  3. Access to the owners and operators of over 3,000 small businesses in Boston
  4. Marketing support from Boston Main Streets
  5. Public announcement of the partnership by City officials
Small Businesses Are Loosing The Online Battle

Typically, people choose to shop at a location because:
  1. The store has a strong reputation with people they trust, or
  2. They are attracted by its storefront appeal
While the city does promote storefront appeal, such as the OBD Restore program and "Deck the Windows contest", and companies like Google or Yelp offer online access to a business' reputation, most neighborhood businesses still have limited options for promoting their product and services in the context of their foot-traffic-based business model.

The problem is intensified by the fact that the product offerings of large online and offline retailers are increasingly accessible to local shoppers through e-commerce platforms. As an example, it is easier to shop for a gift at Amazon.com while sitting at a local coffee shop than it is to find a local gift-shop in the same neighborhood.

You Need To Be Real And Submit On Time

To submit to this request, your company should:
  1. Have a history of at least 8 to 12 months of operations at the time of application
  2. Sell a working product to real users and/or customers
Call for applicants: Begins on May 15, ends on July 5.
  • Semi-finalists will be announced in July
  • Finalists in late July
  • Final Partner selection will be in early August
Good luck!

The Herald Picked Up The Story...

Boston Herald: "It's virtually a way to lure people into shops ..."