Place storytelling in your pocket

Vamonde Chicago

For centuries people have told stories about places. Legends of far-flung spots like Timbuktu, Constantinople, and Zanzibar had captured the European imagination long before global travel became commonplace.

Now in the 21st century, the medium of delivery has changed but the desire for stories has remained. A new startup is combining colourful stories of place with a mobile app platform.

Created in Chicago and launched just weeks ago, Vamonde is the brainchild of Anijo Mathew, an entrepreneur based in the Windy City. The platform is already gaining traction, attracting hundreds of users in its first weeks. I caught up with Anijo last week for a brief chat about Vamonde and its mission.

Vamonde is a place-based storytelling platform, designed to help connect physical and virtual places through the use of place narratives. Users log on and create place ‘adventures’, which can feature special sections to be unlocked only when the reader physically visits the place in question.

Some of the latest stories posted feature a tour of Chicago’s historical architecture, the stories of Humboldt Park, and the intersections and places that define Illinois Institute of Technology, one of the growing number of organisations that use Vamonde.

Anijo has always believed that the world is full of stories just waiting to be discovered. But he found that the question, “what happened here?” too often tended to go unanswered.

So he asked: “What if we really could make these walls talk? What if we could explore the world around us – not just seeing what’s in front of us now, but seeing who and what came before?”

At present, Vamonde’s birthplace Chicago is the main focus of the platform. But the team behind Vamonde hopes to expand the app to encompass other cities, both within America and all over the world. Anijo and I both agreed that cities with long histories, such as Istanbul, could be ideal candidates for Vamonde’s next steps.

Vamonde (vah-mond) brings together two French words – Va, meaning “Go” and Monde, meaning “World.” Put together, Vamonde means “Go World.” The idea for Vamonde came from real world needs of those wanting to tell stories of place.

“We want to help users and organisations create beautiful experiences out in the world and connect stories into amazing adventures that encourage others to get out of their offices, homes, hotel rooms to touch, feel, smell, hear and experience place!”

This is the spirit that drives Vamonde.

Vamonde is currently available only for iOS, but an Android version is in the works.

If you’re interested in learning more, follow Vamonde on Twitter or Facebook.

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