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Cincinnati, Ohio

Steve Oldfield of Touritz

Meet Sean Thomas, founder of the up-and-coming Touritz, which brings local walking tours to your smart phone.

Is Cincinnati a unique city for entrepreneurs?
This has been our first introduction to the vibrant startup community that exists in Cincinnati. Absolutely, this is an environment that encourages participation and new ideas. We've had a lot of support from local entrepreneurs and investors.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?
We owe the NKU INKUBATOR program for the birth of Touritz.

Sean Thomas and I both turned to public history after careers in television. We founded InstantAccessTours.com, which creates virtual walking tours of cites and historic sites. We've generated tours for The Civil War Battle of Augusta, Ky., and for the Village of New Richmond, Ohio, and we're creating tours for the Covington Bicentennial and for the City of Ft. Thomas. We were finalists at NKU's INKUBATOR for startup companies last year, but weren't selected.

One of the successful entrepreneurs from the 2012 class was Dan Adams, the creator of Earthineer.com. Dan had an idea for an app for history buffs and travelers—a platform that allowed local historians and tour guides to create and upload walking tours so that others could download them on mobile devices.  

After the conclusion of the 2012 class, Dan learned about our idea, and contacted us. Touritz is what developed out of merging his idea with our experience in the industry, and the "pain" points that we found.

With InstantAcessTours, Sean and I had been helping smaller museums and historic sites create their own app without incurring a lot of the expenses that usually come with such a venture. Budget constraints are a very real problem for local historic sites. Touritz's revenue model allows for the platform to be free—no monthly hosting fees, no fees for mobile development. This way, we can offer compelling content for places with smaller budgets, and utilize an untapped resource—local historians.

Describe your operation—employees, office space and such.
We are a lean company right now. Sean and I continue to develop virtual tours and to work our contacts in the field, while going through this summer's INKUBATOR class. Brad Gardner and Brian Sauer, both graduate students at NKU's School of Informatics, are our programmers on the team. Dan Adams is acting as our advisor. We're also working with Differential (and intend to work with them on a more permanent basis moving forward).

What local resources did you utilize to get started?
We have had tremendous help and leadership from NKU's business school and the INKUBATOR. We've been fortunate to have had some phenomenal mentors from Queen City Angels, Differential and the Garage Group, among others.

What can we expect of the big launch of Touritz?
We have been really excited by the interest we've already generated and the momentum that it creates. Expect to see lots of really cool content—and the ability to review the tours, comment, add tips and share your own. You can also expect to get some good deals offered by local businesses in the city where you'll be touring. When we launch, we encourage everyone to head out and experience some of the history around you.

Interview by Sean Peters

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