Case spotlight: Story City: Looking for Growth During a Global Crisis

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This case was featured in Connect, issue 53, September 2021.

Who – the protagonist

Emily Craven, CEO of Story City.

What?

Created by Australian entrepreneur Emily Craven, Story City was the world’s first open platform and GPS app for location-based storytelling.

The app was designed to transform cities into places that both tourists and locals interact with and explore, rather than just walk through.

Story City

Story City had already made important advances and received several recognitions, including the Brisbane City Council Award for its innovative use of storytelling and community engagement, helping the youth arts sector. Some of the stories listed on the app had also been nominated for literary awards, such as the Australian Writers’ Guild Awards and Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards.

While AR gaming (e.g. Pokemon Go) and locative storytelling was growing in popularity, none of the current locative storytelling or gaming platforms allowed for the presentation and sale of content produced by outside (independent) content creators, and as such they did not allow for incorporating local knowledge and culture to make the user experience truly unique. Story City wanted to fill that gap by being an open platform, where local content creators could publish unique creative stories.

Why?

Emily wanted to expand Story City into the North American market but the global COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020.

Lockdowns introduced in many countries, combined with travel restrictions, meant that tourists physically travelling to a location and exploring was going to play less of a role in the company’s growth. The growth strategy needed to be altered accordingly to position the company for success.

When?

After launching the app in 2016 in Australia, it was April 2020 when Emily was deciding the best option to move forward into the North American market.

Where?

Having been successful in cities around Australia, Emily was targeting US and Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas.

These cities had more than 20 million visitors per year and/or a local population of more than three million.

Key quote

“Redefining stories so they’re something you’re a part of, rather than something you’re told.”
Story City’s mission.

What next?

Story City’s plans for expansion faced challenges from COVID-19, as demand for travelling was dependent upon per capita disposable income, and consumer sentiment, which were still uncertain.

However, while it might seem that travellers were the largest market for an app like Story City, the local engagement figures for location-based augmented reality gamily apps such as Pokemon Go were significant since they engaged locals in touring, exploration and walking behaviours in their own cities.

Emily had different options to consider.

AUTHOR PERSPECTIVE 

Highlighting women entrepreneurs

Albena said: “As part of my research programme, I was conducting a research study about women entrepreneurs with a focus on ‘male-dominated’ industries, such as technology and engineering.

“Emily was so kind to agree to be a participant in my study. Once I learned more about her venture, it was clear that it would make for an excellent case study that can be used in class to exemplify different business concepts.

Story City

“Additionally, as an educator, I have seen a troubling fact in the lack of cases that feature women entrepreneurs, especially in industries like technology. Other scholars have also taken notice of this, and a review of business teaching cases reported that women protagonists were absent in more than 80% of cases (Sharen & McGowan, 2018). Featuring role models like Emily in business cases helps reduce mental barriers for students.”

Student engagement

Albena continued: “Students are so much more engaged when the cases that we use in class are relatable to their daily lives.

“Apps and technology are so important in students’ interactions that it makes for an excellent setting for discussions, and students immediately connect with it.

“I found that many students went beyond the case and looked for additional information (even though I had not assigned those additional readings!) in order to learn more. Student engagement increases dramatically when we discuss cases that they can relate to.”

Working together

She added: “This was a truly collaborative effort. Emily had carried out rich research into the industry trends, which was extremely helpful. Her passion and commitment shine through in the case. I was so happy to co-author the case with Emily. It is the kind of engagement that energises me and I am grateful for the opportunity.”

Global reach

Albena explained: “This is one of the great benefits of cases like Story City – it is truly global, and students from different parts of the world can relate to it and debate business solutions that are best suited to the particular region/country/culture where they are located, as well as how to reach target markets in different countries across the world. Story City’s appeal as a business transcend borders, and so does the case.”

Emily added: “Story City aims to be a global platform (soon opening our Beta up to creators across the world). There are some incredibly rich discussions to be had with students across the globe as each region is different, and requires different localisations and go-to-market plans based on local culture and interests, something entertainment companies from Netflix to Disney to TikTok have realised, and created specialised teams for. The case to build the market in North America is incredibly different to Asia, India, or Europe.

“The resulting responses to this case study allow for discussion on how a platform like this can expand successfully in different geographies for a truly global discussion.”

Growing Story City

Emily concluded: “In addition to the research we’d already done into the market, it was brilliant to have additional resources and references contributed by Associate Professor Pergelova to the case study that we could add to our resources, when talking to investors and funding bodies about the potential of our platform and market. We’re also hopeful that this will drive awareness of this new platform and format, and attract some business talent from across the world to our growing start-up.”

THE CASE 

The case

Who – the protagonist

Emily Craven, CEO of Story City.

What?

Created by Australian entrepreneur Emily Craven, Story City was the world’s first open platform and GPS app for location-based storytelling.

The app was designed to transform cities into places that both tourists and locals interact with and explore, rather than just walk through.

Story City

Story City had already made important advances and received several recognitions, including the Brisbane City Council Award for its innovative use of storytelling and community engagement, helping the youth arts sector. Some of the stories listed on the app had also been nominated for literary awards, such as the Australian Writers’ Guild Awards and Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards.

While AR gaming (e.g. Pokemon Go) and locative storytelling was growing in popularity, none of the current locative storytelling or gaming platforms allowed for the presentation and sale of content produced by outside (independent) content creators, and as such they did not allow for incorporating local knowledge and culture to make the user experience truly unique. Story City wanted to fill that gap by being an open platform, where local content creators could publish unique creative stories.

Why?

Emily wanted to expand Story City into the North American market but the global COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020.

Lockdowns introduced in many countries, combined with travel restrictions, meant that tourists physically travelling to a location and exploring was going to play less of a role in the company’s growth. The growth strategy needed to be altered accordingly to position the company for success.

When?

After launching the app in 2016 in Australia, it was April 2020 when Emily was deciding the best option to move forward into the North American market.

Where?

Having been successful in cities around Australia, Emily was targeting US and Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas.

These cities had more than 20 million visitors per year and/or a local population of more than three million.

Key quote

“Redefining stories so they’re something you’re a part of, rather than something you’re told.”
Story City’s mission.

What next?

Story City’s plans for expansion faced challenges from COVID-19, as demand for travelling was dependent upon per capita disposable income, and consumer sentiment, which were still uncertain.

However, while it might seem that travellers were the largest market for an app like Story City, the local engagement figures for location-based augmented reality gamily apps such as Pokemon Go were significant since they engaged locals in touring, exploration and walking behaviours in their own cities.

Emily had different options to consider.

AUTHOR PERSPECTIVE 

Author perspective

Highlighting women entrepreneurs

Albena said: “As part of my research programme, I was conducting a research study about women entrepreneurs with a focus on ‘male-dominated’ industries, such as technology and engineering.

“Emily was so kind to agree to be a participant in my study. Once I learned more about her venture, it was clear that it would make for an excellent case study that can be used in class to exemplify different business concepts.

Story City

“Additionally, as an educator, I have seen a troubling fact in the lack of cases that feature women entrepreneurs, especially in industries like technology. Other scholars have also taken notice of this, and a review of business teaching cases reported that women protagonists were absent in more than 80% of cases (Sharen & McGowan, 2018). Featuring role models like Emily in business cases helps reduce mental barriers for students.”

Student engagement

Albena continued: “Students are so much more engaged when the cases that we use in class are relatable to their daily lives.

“Apps and technology are so important in students’ interactions that it makes for an excellent setting for discussions, and students immediately connect with it.

“I found that many students went beyond the case and looked for additional information (even though I had not assigned those additional readings!) in order to learn more. Student engagement increases dramatically when we discuss cases that they can relate to.”

Working together

She added: “This was a truly collaborative effort. Emily had carried out rich research into the industry trends, which was extremely helpful. Her passion and commitment shine through in the case. I was so happy to co-author the case with Emily. It is the kind of engagement that energises me and I am grateful for the opportunity.”

Global reach

Albena explained: “This is one of the great benefits of cases like Story City – it is truly global, and students from different parts of the world can relate to it and debate business solutions that are best suited to the particular region/country/culture where they are located, as well as how to reach target markets in different countries across the world. Story City’s appeal as a business transcend borders, and so does the case.”

Emily added: “Story City aims to be a global platform (soon opening our Beta up to creators across the world). There are some incredibly rich discussions to be had with students across the globe as each region is different, and requires different localisations and go-to-market plans based on local culture and interests, something entertainment companies from Netflix to Disney to TikTok have realised, and created specialised teams for. The case to build the market in North America is incredibly different to Asia, India, or Europe.

“The resulting responses to this case study allow for discussion on how a platform like this can expand successfully in different geographies for a truly global discussion.”

Growing Story City

Emily concluded: “In addition to the research we’d already done into the market, it was brilliant to have additional resources and references contributed by Associate Professor Pergelova to the case study that we could add to our resources, when talking to investors and funding bodies about the potential of our platform and market. We’re also hopeful that this will drive awareness of this new platform and format, and attract some business talent from across the world to our growing start-up.”

THE CASE 

Read the case

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TEACHING NOTE - Reference no. 521-0062-8
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