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Meet the brains behind the world's first global culture mapper, Step Your World

PARIS vía @claratlan (SAVE FOR LATER)

Step Your World is a new app launched in April that connects you to travel recommendations from peers worldwide. As the world's first 'global culture mapper', Step aims to provide real-time travel tips recommended by friends, bloggers and influencers in different cities.

We spoke with founders – and childhood friends – Robyn Nicholl and Rachel Rockowitz on how the creative process came to life.

Paradigm Haus: What is the story behind Step Your World? Step Your World (Robyn Nicholl and Rachel Rockowitz): It's a long one! But essentially, Rachel and I, who are childhood friends, came together just over two years ago (yes it takes forever to launch an app) and came up with Step in a creative effort to solve our never-ending problem of remembering, finding, and sharing recommendations from our travels and city explorations. There was nothing in the market that felt like it solved the issue we were facing in a way that we would actually engage with. Thus, the concept for Step was born.

PH: Step is the world’s first culture mapper. Could you tell us more about that and what it means to be a culture mapper?

RN/RW: I will explain how the app works in your questions below, but we call it a culture map or a culture mapper because the app allows people to map out their everyday movements and to digitally share these. So it's really a hub for culture, allowing people to connect and share experiences and recommendations from all over the world.

PH: You work with a lot of influencers to curate guides for your platforms. How do you find these individuals and is there a checklist for how you choose your guides? What was the strategy behind using social media to launch the brand before the app? RN/RW: Honestly, we just wanted to start a digital community of like-minded creatives and travellers in anticipation of the launch of our app and the communities we hoped would start to grow there. The content strategy emerged as we were thinking about how we could begin to highlight the need for a digital hub for relevant peer-to-peer recommendations. We were racking our brains, trying to think of how we could build content without a product or a content team when Rachel came up with the idea for mini city guides to be shared on social channels as curated by the cultural leaders in our community. We started with our friends and then people started to organically come to us and ask if they could do guides. Now we have an amazing head of Partnerships, Charlotte, who we actually connected with on Instagram through a friend. She did a guide for us and has ended up leading all our partnerships! In terms of a checklist, there isn’t one but we tend to bring in guides from people that are already connected to people who have done guides as it feels like an organic community build in that way.

PH: What is the importance of digital and social media in today’s age? RN/RW: It's major! I mean, I’m stating the obvious but – it allows us to connect and share our experiences globally in real-time! It is also, as we all know, really distracting and I think something that we are really excited about with the launch of the Step app is that although it is a social platform the main point of the platform is to get people out and about and off their phones. Step is about exploring where you live in a new way, trying out spots you didn’t know were there and about allowing you to spend less time on your phone / social media platforms looking for recommendations.

PH: How have you used social media to engage your audience? RN/RW: I think by creating these mini-guides we have engaged our audience in that they can save them and use them functionally when they travel or want to explore somewhere new. On most of our posts, we have nearly the same number of saves as likes, which is amazing!

PH: What can a user expect on their first experience with Step Your World? RN/RW: What a user can expect…. well, we have set Step apart from most other apps out there, by opting for a minimal, modern design-build that takes inspiration from typographic layouts in design magazines and appeals to a more millennial, design-focused audience. Step is free and easy to use. Simply open the app, search for the place you want to remember, add it to your map and it's saved for future reference or for sharing with friends and family. The platform will feel like a second home for existing Instagram and Google Places users who will be familiar with the app's layout. The platform is map-based, but users have profiles, can follow and be followed and will find live activity updates on their feeds and explore pages. Added bonus – users will only see comments from the people they follow. Say goodbye to the general noise of platforms like Tripadvisor and Google Maps!

PH: How can we use Step Your World in everyday life?

RN/RW: Step is the app for finding, saving and sharing recommendations. It can be used in everyday life to explore your own city – to try out a restaurant you didn’t know existed in your neighbourhood, go and spend the day in a new area of town you are unfamiliar with, stay up to date on where your friends have been, explore maps populated by our Culture Curators…

Image: The @artfix guide to FLORENCE, MEXICO CITY, PARIS & AMSTERDAM vía co-founder @tee.thandlips on Step Your World

I can’t tell you how many places I now have on my list to check out coming over of lockdown next month just from the small community of people best testing the app, it's amazing!

Obviously, the app shines when you travel and feel most acutely the need for relevant, trusted and up to date recommendations.


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