CityHood app, London city guide for unique and hidden places
Helene Mattei founded CityHood app in September 2015, a London city guide app divided by neighborhoods to discover off the beaten track places to sleep, eat, drink, shop and party. The app has been designed to enable both locals and tourists to unlock the very best of London discovering hidden gems, being guided through well-thought and pleasant itineraries and learning about secrets and fun facts about each neighborhoods. Both its valuable place recommendations and its splendid pictures make this London city guide unique. In this interview, Helene shares with us her journey creating CityHood, her experience in the digital world and her personal tips to know more about London online.
LadyPlans: what is CityHood? Why did you decide to launch a city guide app of London?
Helene Mattei: CityHood is a curated city guide app that focuses on the most interesting and exciting places to be in London, divided by neighborhoods. We like hidden gems, unusual details and unique experiences. CityHood is designed for locals and visitors alike, to discover new neighborhoods and get off the beaten track. The app is free to download. In the free version, users can unlock 1 neighborhood for free. This includes free updates for 12 months. Additional neighborhoods are 99p each. For £2.99 users can unlock all current and soon-to-be-launched neighborhoods.
I moved to London in October 2009 and, while I was looking for a job, I decided to create a blog called The Londonium, and share my findings around the city. I started to really explore each neighborhood and discover secret places/streets that you cannot know unless you live in the area. Those discoveries made me think about the CityHood concept to bring an another way to explore a city.
LadyPlans: how do you select the places that are being featured on CityHood?
Helene Mattei: I always chose each neighborhood for its character, history, or its alternative value. And then, after some research on the Internet, I create my perfect itinerary and get lost in each area. I visit all the places from my list and, most of the time, I discover new ones. I am always looking for something special about the place whether that’s great atmosphere, style or food. I also try to meet people from the neighborhood, get their local experience and their favorite places.
LadyPlans: how is CityHood different from other London city guide apps?
Helene Mattei: CityHood is made to live each neighborhood of the city like locals. As well as place recommendations, we provide the secrets and histories of each neighborhood, including itineraries. This lets Londoners and tourists alike hit the ground running in a new neighborhood, discovering all the special elements that make it so unique.
LadyPlans: what are your long-term goals for CityHood? What are your key projects for CityHood in 2017?
Helene Mattei: Since our launch in September 2015, I’ve tried to develop the app while I was working full time. But, as I am now on maternity leave, I want to use this time to focus on the development of CityHood, while taking care of my baby. So this year, we are launching a new iOS version (next month), website makeover and an Android app.
We are also launching a new city and region by the end of the year.
Sharing your experience in digital
LadyPlans: what is you role at CityHood? What were your professional experiences in digital prior to CityHood? What additional skills were required to bring CityHood to life?
Helene Mattei: my role is everything from selecting the places/neighborhoods and taking photos to creating the website and all visuals, as well as managing the development of the next app releases and working on the overall strategy. I don’t have much professional experience in digital but I’ve always had a personal interest in this area with my blog and social medias, and my studies as I’ve done an IT Engineering School in France. I’ve had to learn a lot around marketing, business plan and how to use Lightroom and Photoshop, mainly via websites and tutorials.
LadyPlans: what advice would you give to young female entrepreneurs who want to launch their mobile app?
Helene Mattei: My main advice is: just do it! You will always find people who are going to tell you that it is not going to work or the idea is not so great… But you just have to keep up and have around you people who support you. I’ve always told myself that even if it doesn’t work, I would learn a lot and it‘ll never be a waste of time.
LadyPlans: how do you leverage digital to increase CityHood visibility?
Helene Mattei: we are working a lot on how to get more visibility on the Internet using SEO (Search Engineer Optimisation), on the Apple Store using ASO (App Store Optimisation) and on social medias by posting regularly.
Sharing your personal digital tips
LadyPlans: what are the websites that make your life easier on a daily-basis?
- https://slack.com/ – great to work collaboratively with people
- https://www.amazon.co.uk/ – amazing for my new mum life
LadyPlans: what are the reference websites to get the latest news about things to do and visit in London?
- www.timeout.com – to know what’s happening in London right now
- londonist.com – for some secret histories and selection articles
- www.justopenedlondon.com – for the latest opening
LadyPlans: which social media accounts do you regularly follow to be kept updated on London?
Helene Mattei: I am a big fan of Instagram so my favorite accounts are:
- @siobhaise – for her beautiful photos of London
- @ClerkenwellBoyEC1 – for amazing food photos
- @poppy_loves_london – for her funny insta stories
LadyPlans: what ‘hidden nugget’ blogs or websites about London would you recommend us to check out?
Helene Mattei:tTo know a bit more about London: