Project Nande is a membership club started by a group of Chicago based travel writers, photographers, and filmmakers. Our mission is to help members discover every corner of Chicago, cross neighborhood lines, and make the most out of their Chicago experience. Here are links to Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 and Vol.4
Where does the time go? It’s been close to 2 years since I first started to toy around with the idea of Project Nande. If there’s one thing I can take away from this experience so far, it’s that more than anything, building a business is a test of perseverance. It’s one long slog and the hope is to keep racking up enough small wins until you can hit some sort of inflection point. The hard part is not knowing when that inflection point is coming. When does it get easier? I have no freaking clue, but I’ll let you know if that ever happens.
In absence of that, the only thing you can do is celebrate your small wins, and I’m writing this post to do just that. I made it a point a few months ago to start focusing more effort around marketing Project Nande.
I wanted to do something, however, beyond just ponying up cash for online ads. In a world of so much junk vying for our attention, I put on my creative hat to try to do something to cut through the noise. This is the result.
It’s a Field Guide to Chicago that was produced in collaboration with Intelligentsia. Inside are five chapters of photo essays exploring different Chicago neighborhoods. For each chapter we visit an Intelligentsia coffeebar, and with their help, we make a day of it by exploring the neighborhoods they’re in.
If you follow our suggestions, you’ll be doing things like an independent bookstore crawl in Wicker Park, an architecture tour in Downtown, eating French street food and catching a magic show in Lakeview, or going on a 5K brewery and food walkabout in Logan Square and Avondale that ends with a shot of malort.
Of all the places we feature, nearly all of them offer Field Guide holders a deal or exclusive experience. In all, there’s over $100 worth of value being offered in the guide. So while this was initially intended as a way to market Project Nande, it was also used as an opportunity to provide real value to our subscribers and potential subscribers.
Each of our members get a copy, but they’re also available for sale at Intelligentsia Coffeebars all around the city. You can pick one up for $7.
So What’s Next?
Another Field Guide is already in the works. This time with the University of Chicago.
From a product stand point this is what we’re working on next:
- Building deals directly into our online city guides. We want memberships to pay for themselves. If we can save our members money while also curating exceptional experiences, then signing-up becomes a no-brainer.
- Now that there’s a lot of content on our site, we need to make it a lot easier for users to find the right content. When members are out and about, often times the question is, “what’s there to do around me, right now?” What we’re working on next is a way for us to curate these experiences on the fly, and help users answer that question.