SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla., Oct. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- While mobile app developers such as Yelp and Urbanspoon cater to large metropolitan cities, small town entrepreneurs are racing to establish dominant mobile brands in their local neighborhoods. In fact, so strong is the demand that some communities are even offering cash prizes to incentivize entrepreneurs to develop local mobile apps, such as Ottawa, Canada's recent announcement it will award $50,000 for the development of new software products for its citizens.
When entrepreneur Mike Ragsdale launched a mobile guide for his small beach town last year, his iPhone app was the first of its kind in Florida.
"I didn't expect it to take off like it has," said Ragsdale, owner of 30A.com, an online guide to "Scenic Highway 30-A," a popular resort area along Florida's Gulf Coast. "I created the app for fun, but soon, people started asking me to launch similar guides for other towns, neighborhoods and resort areas."
But rather than expanding into new locations himself, Ragsdale partnered with his friend Jeff Armstrong to create TownWizard (http://www.TownWizard.com), a software product designed to help entrepreneurs quickly establish custom mobile guides in their communities.
"The tech industry typically focuses on large metropolitan hubs, but entrepreneurs in smaller markets also recognize the extraordinary opportunity presented by mobile computing," said Armstrong. "Google recently revealed that one-third of all mobile searches pertain to some aspect of the searcher's local environment, and that creates the same opportunity in small towns as it does in big cities."
"There's a lot of experimentation and innovation right now," said Ragsdale. "Mobile computing has created another virtual gold rush, and it feels a lot like the early dot-com days."
He should know. In the 1990s, Ragsdale built some of the first and most successful online brands and communities for companies such as AOL, Time Warner and Playboy Entertainment, before dropping out of the tech race and moving his family to a sleepy beach community in Florida's panhandle.
"I thought we moved here to relax," said Ragsdale. But instead, TownWizard has already partnered with entrepreneurs in over 25 U.S. markets. And that's just in the company's first few months of operation. "Now we're starting to get calls about international destinations, too."
Armstrong believes that the appeal to some entrepreneurs has been their software's surprisingly affordable price tag. While a recent Forrester Research report set the price of a "no-frills" app at a minimum of $20,000 -- and more sophisticated apps costing $150,000 or more to develop -- the TownWizard software platform only costs $495 to launch, with a monthly fee of $195.
"We really wanted to make it affordable for aspiring entrepreneurs," said Armstrong. "It's obvious that every town and neighborhood will eventually have its own mobile app guide. The only question is, who will be the first person to create it?"
[ http://www.TownWizard.com / 1-866-651-0001 ]