COLUMBIA - A new travel app is getting its start here in Columbia.
Local business Kolu seeks to set itself apart from the glut of travel apps on the iTunes and Android app stores. The business revolves around getting customers in touch with "experts" of the city to where they are traveling. These experts would give tourists a local's perspective on the best places to stay, eat, etc.
"We think that people are getting tired of large, standardized group tours. Kolu will offer them a much more customized experience so they can get exactly what they're looking for," said Kolu Chief Technology Officer Emily Johnson.
The app is looking to officially launch its beta on July 25th, largely to make sure it is ready for the tourism boom the August eclipse will bring to Columbia.
The Kolu staff is composed mainly of both past and current University of Missouri students selected Columbia as their testing city for the app.
From there, they look to execute a city by city rollout, and even go international.
The idea for the app came when Kolu Founder Alex Winkler traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, and was disappointed with his standardized bus tour.
Kolu is utilizing local business resource The Hub to build the business, leading to the app getting a special mention at Wednesday's Regional Economic Development (REDI) board meeting.
REDI Entrepreneurship Program Director Collin Bunch said he expects the app to have success with the younger generation.
"The thing with millennial is they want real, authentic experiences. They don't want to eat at a Chili's in Dallas. They want to. They want to find the best, underground restaurant that locals go to," Bunch said.
Kolu currently has 10 guide experts in Columbia, but are looking for more. Those interested can visit the Kolu website and apply.