Alexa Baggio made the trek to Maryland to work on Localize, a system for crowdsourcing business ideas for vacant local store fronts. “So that empty bar on the corner or that restaurant that keeps turning over…instead of forcing another restaurant tenant in there we want to ask the community what it needs and what it’s missing–in hopes that the property owners and agents can use that info to find longer term and more prosperous tenants,” she explained. “I pitched the idea in Baltimore because I thought the people would be more receptive to the issue and I thought the New York event would be more geared towards tech heavy ideas, like trying to find the next Facebook.
Ms. Baggio, whose full name is Alexa Nicolle Gaines Baggio, is a recent college graduate who moved to New York after college to take a job at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Her brother lives in Baltimore, though, and she felt the city would be the perfect launch pad for Localize, an idea she’s had for a long time which she hopes to expand across the country.
“Baltimore is a city with a more local mentality where people are committed to bettering their community and localize is a tool for those types of communities. Store front vacancy in NYC is a different beast,” she said.
Localize in its current incarnation works like this: Ever walk by a vacant store front in your neighborhood and think, man, I have to walk eight blocks to do my laundry–wouldn’t it be great if we had a laundromat there? Localize plans to put up notices encouraging people to text a code to the property’s listed number and vote on the ideas posted on the store front. They’re also working on a way to let passersby submit new ideas via text and online. Eventually, Ms. Baggio hopes to integrate Twitter and Facebook in order to facilitate voting.
“We pitched a basic prototype this weekend and got great feedback. I think the team is excited and we plan to try to continue the project to it’s fullest,” she said.