East Boston’s Rob Pyles could very well be sitting on a million dollar idea but in the meantime he’d settle for $100,000.
Pyles is the founder of Audissey Guides, a company that produces audio walking tours for iPods and smart phones. You just download the tour for free from the Audissey website, and walk through the city as local celebrities guide you through their hometown. It’s the next best thing to having a local friend actually show you around.
The $100,000 Pyles is hoping to settle for is the first place prize in the Forbes Magazine “Boost Your Business” Competition. Audissey Guides and Pyles have made it to the semi-finals and were one of the top five vote getters for weeks. However, Audissey has recently slipped out of the top five and with polls closing at midnight on Wednesday, Sept. 30 (today), Pyles is asking friends, supporters and his East Boston neighbors to get out the vote during the last day of competition.
“All you have to do is visit http://boost09.perfectprize.com/voting/Vote for Audissey Guides,” said Pyles. “You will get an email confirmation regarding your vote. Click on the confirmation link for your vote to register–it’s that simple.”
By East Boston standards, Pyles hasn’t lived here long–just over four years–but he’s taken a big liking to the neighborhood.
“Growing up in the Boston area as a kid, I had never even heard of East Boston,” Pyles said. “But then a few years ago, my wife and I were looking for our first home. We wanted to be near the water, in a diverse community, with a mix of old traditions and new blood, to have good food, and be close to downtown. So when we found East Boston, it was home.”
His business, Audissey, has been hired by some of the biggest cities in the US, including Washington DC, Houston, Texas, and Boston. They have produced four different tours in the Boston area: the Boston Public Garden, the Downtown Harborwalk, the Fort Point Channel, and their tour of “Secret Boston”. Their Harborwalk tour features Mayor Thomas Menino in the introduction.
“Just think about it,” says Menino. “Right now, I’m at City Hall or in some meeting, and you get to be out here, enjoying the Harborwalk. How about switching places?”
Many who know Pyles or have taken one of his tours always ask him how he came up with such an innovative idea?
Well, he was hiking through Ireland, when he came across a castle.
“Here was this mysterious castle, sitting there in the middle of a field – no signs, not anything and I thought to myself, the stories this place has seen – but I had no way to tap into them,” said Pyles. “The seed for Audissey Guides was born right there. What if I could help travelers understand the secret stories behind places? What if I could, in a way, make the walls talk, so you can hear the stories of the places you’re walking past? ”
Pyles calls Audissey’s tours ‘location-based documentaries’.
“Instead of sitting at home and learning about a place, you’re actually walking through that place as you learn about it,” said Pyles. “It’s an interactive experience. And we like to sometimes surprise people with the content on our tours.”
A good example is their Seattle tour, which incorporates a ride on the public bus into the tour. But instead of telling you where to get off the bus, the narrator gives you a challenge.
“Ask someone. That’s right – you’re going to have to actually talk to someone. So look around and ask them where Seneca Street is,” the tour guide says.
2009 has been a good year for Audissey Guides. In the past six months, they’ve won three of the most prestigious awards in the industry, including the distinguished MUSE Award from the American Association of Museums. Their audio tour of the Boston Public Garden also just won the Media Award from the National Association of Interpretation.
All of their tours are available for free on their website at www.AudisseyGuides.com.