West Haven News

Posted on: April 18, 2017

City, chamber rolling out GPS app to promote more business

Mayor Edward OBrien Headshot

WEST HAVEN, April 18, 2017 — The city and the Chamber of Commerce are partnering with a Bridgeport mobile application company to help West Haven businesses enhance their online marketing presence.

The startup company, URHere, has rolled out an advanced smartphone app that functions to help people find their way, whether they are indoors or outdoors, said its founder and CEO, Mark Lazarus.

Lazarus, a cybersecurity expert, said the cost-effective program, which combines maps and indoor GPS into one application, allows businesses to plug their name and connect with patrons for improved satisfaction.

To boost customer engagement, the creative app enables business owners to post their own video or audio commercials and photos.

Lazarus said the app, available to the public as a free download on Apple’s App Store and within two months on Google Play, also tracks foot traffic for businesses and displays bus routes.

“URHere gives users access to a menu of easy-to-use operations to locate businesses and destinations and rate their experiences,” said Mayor Edward M. O’Brien, who owned and operated GoldWorks, a jewelry repair and retail shop at 499 Campbell Ave., for nearly three decades before taking office in 2013.

For instance, Lazarus said, to promote a social event or special sale offer, a business can post a commercial, coupon or flyer via URHere and anyone with the app will receive a notification about the event or special.

Merchants can also send a link of their business or social media account to a potential customer’s Apple or Android smartphone, Lazarus said.

“My administration is dedicated to making our city a better place to live, work, shop, dine and stay,” O’Brien said. “URHere is a surefire marketing strategy to showcase your business while helping to bolster and stimulate tourism in our city.”

The URHere program is being financed by the Department of Planning and Development — to the tune of $5,000 per year — as a tool to give city businesses a shot in the arm, said Joseph A. Riccio Jr., commissioner of planning and development.

“We are constantly exploring new initiatives to foster and increase business, economic development and tourism in West Haven,” Riccio said. “I believe this innovative app can make businesses stronger and more prosperous.”

The URHere contract provides the city with 10 beacons, with additional beacons costing $300 each.

The lithium battery-operated beacons, which contain information relevant to where they are installed, are being deployed in popular public areas, including City Hall and parks.

Riccio said the city can also use the 2-by-2-inch beacons to publicize news and events.

To help decrease the cost of online marketing for chamber-member businesses, chamber Director Alan R. Olenick has negotiated a reduced rate with Lazarus that supplies each business with one free beacon for a $45 monthly subscription to URHere.

The service costs $100 per month for non-chamber members, Lazarus said.

Lazarus said the service includes uploading commercials and photos to the URHere website portal and receiving a beacon to blast out notifications. He said subscribers will also receive data on how many people visited their establishment and how many people they sent messages to.

“This is an exciting mixture of technology and business engagement that will give business owners direct marketing with their customers,” Olenick said. “More and more people are finding information immediately on their cellphone. The app will allow marketing directly to the consumer, and hopefully that will create revenue from increased sales.”

Chamber members are encouraged to sign up for URHere by contacting Olenick at info@westhavenchamber.com or 203-933-1500.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, Lazarus will demonstrate URHere for chamber members at App’s Ristorante, 283 Captain Thomas Blvd., to help them get started with using the website portal.

For non-chamber members, Olenick and Lazarus plan to hold a sign-up event in May.

“I would like to thank Mayor O’Brien for being a visionary for making this partnership possible,” Lazarus said. “I believe URHere will help businesses in West Haven move forward and make them more competitive in the marketplace. It is a true honor to work with the mayor and his team, and I look forward to working with the businesses of West Haven.”

For information about URHere, contact Lazarus at mark.lazarus@urhere.us or 203-561-4944.

— MICHAEL P. WALSH, Public Relations Information Coordinator

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