Exploring a new city or trying to find the best hidden gems in your own neighborhood can be both thrilling and daunting. Each city and neighborhood has a treasure trove of delights for you to discover but knowing where to find the best spots can lead you down a rabbit hole of search engines and bad experiences. Not anymore. There is a new kid on the block created to cater to all your exploring needs. Meet guidepal
No plans for the weekend? Tired of doing the same old thing every Friday night? Want to see what is hot and happening in your neighborhood or city and need some inspiration to see where the best places to go are?
Imagine accessing a guide to the music history of your neighborhood curated by a legendary blues musician; getting to follow in the footsteps of a day in your favorite fashion blogger’s life as they meander through clothing stores only an expert would know about; getting a road trip itinerary created by your favorite band who are currently on the road touring; learning about the best hidden beaches by your most trusted wellness guru; or finding the ultimate barhoppers’ guide by the party animal you already follow on Instagram.
No need to imagine because a whole new world awaits you. Guidepal, the brainchild of Linda Karlsson and Shelley Mulshine, is set to revolutionize the way influencers, artists, musicians, and other creators share their recommendations, and how you get to explore the world around you, whether it be the city you live in or a city you are visiting and seeing for the first time. This sleek, simple-to-use mobile app is packed with insider tips and advice curated by influencers from around the world.
Not only does guidepal give you access to personal and niched content created by real industry experts and popular influencers, but it also gives creators with an already established audience a novel way to earn money by recommending their favorite places and experiences to their followers. Normally creators would have to rely on brands to partner with them to create sponsored content or go through influencer marketing platforms, leading to potentially cringe-worthy posts that scream of product placement. This irritates followers, frustrates creators, and damages the personal brand the creator is trying to build and monetize.
Guidepal shifts the model on its head by offering a new way for influencers to make money and to build their own brand credibility as content creators, disrupting the current structure. “Our goal is to have a positive impact on a pretty toxic industry,” says Mulshine. “Creators don’t have many options if they want to make a paycheck and monetize their large following. The route they have to go is to work with brands and get paid to vouch for their products. On the other end of the spectrum, followers are tired of it. The influencers end up losing followers because of the products they have to push or the brand collaborations they’re compelled to do to earn a living.”
The app allows an influencer to monetize their authentic taste, style, and expertise without needing a brand to partner with them. Creators can share guides relevant to their interests and lifestyle, and market to their followers through their own channels. Using a generous revenue share model, the creator’s followers can purchase their guide, either by downloading the app or directly in a web browser, and pay a mere $1.99. The creator then receives 70% of the net profits, with guidepal keeping a modest 30%.
Cleverly, not just anyone can become a content creator for the app. A creator has to apply to start using the service, and after a vetting process, they will be invited to share their content. “People have to apply to become a creator,” explains Karlsson. “We review all the applications to ensure there are real people behind every account. We also ensure that no brands sign up since we’re keeping the platform clean from brands, products, and sponsored content. There is no advertising on the app. We focus on the creators and their authentic recommendations.”
The app is a women-founded startup led by Karlsson and Mulshine who are both highly experienced in their relevant fields. Before launching the app, Karlsson was working in content creation and production at scale at Apple, VICE, and Google. Mulshine was a marketing executive and is an influencer with seven-million social media followers. After years of doing sponsored brand content, Mulshine saw the need for a new way for creators to earn money and connect with their followers. She shared the idea with Karlsson, with whom she has been friends for more than 20 years. Shortly after that guidepal was born.
The Covid outbreak had a large role to play in their groundbreaking idea. After being forced to stay at home in quarantine and isolation for the duration of the pandemic, both of them felt the need to get out and explore the world again. “We were all stuck inside for almost two years,” says Mulshine. “Once we started going outside again, things had changed. A lot of places that we used to see in our neighborhoods and that we used to love weren’t around anymore. It’s important that we reconnect with our communities and dare to explore the world around us, and we offer a new way of doing that. Guidepal is not just about discovering new cities or travel destinations, but also rediscovering your own city or your own neighborhood, this time through someone else’s footsteps.”
Clive Vanderwagen, Writer