New iPhone App ‘Around the Way’ Locates Black-Owned Businesses

Looking for a black-owned business in your area? Well, there’s an app for that now.

Thanks to the innovative trio behind New York-based company Around the Way and mobile-app development firm Clearly Innovative, located in Washington, DC, Apple iPhone users can download a free app that will locate black-owned establishments in a given area.  With African Americans embracing mobile web usage more than any other demographic, Around the Way, which is comprised of CEO Janine Hausif, Eric Hamilton, the chief marketing officer, and Chief Technology Officer Sian Morson, is invested in placing these businesses on your radar.

According to Pew Research findings, 51% of African-American mobile users do most of their online browsing on their phone, double the amount for their white counterparts (24%). Not to mention, there was a 60% increase in black-owned firms from 2002 to 2007, bringing the total to 1.9 million establishments in ’07, according to the US Census Bureau Survey of Black-Owned Business: 2007. That report was released in February of last year.

“We want the app to be the ‘go-to’ app to locate black-owned businesses; meanwhile, empower business owners to keep them competitive in today’s economy,” said Hausif. “We hope to see successful adaptation of the app by users and continued patronage to these businesses.”

Using an iPhone’s built-in GPS, the app pinpoints the closest black-owned businesses in a five-mile radius of the user. The application shows the location on a map, allowing users to get step-by-step directions, call the business directly or visit the company’s website from the business profile. Users also have the option to share a business’ information on Facebook, Twitter or via email. A customizable favorites list can be created so users don’t have to search again for their preferred shops.

Around the Way is constantly building its database and collaborating with local agencies such as the New York African American Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce and National Black Chamber of Commerce. Users have the option to “view all” of the 17,000 black-owned businesses in all 50 states, or search per one of the nine-different categories.  They include: Auto, ATM/Bank, Bakery/Cafe, Beauty/Barber, Club/Lounge, Laundry/Cleaners, Lodging, Restaurant and Shopping.

Businesses looking to be included within the database should add themselves via the app or website.

The Around the Way team fully funded the app venture out of pocket. And although they’re proud of the launch of their iPhone app, they are already working on the next steps. “Beyond this app, we plan to use the model and success of this Around the Way to develop apps for other business communities– very similar to how Facebook started exclusively on one campus and expanded to other schools,” said the chief executive.

Since the app’s Nov. 6 launch, the mobile startup has reached 1,000 downloads in the App Store.  Around the Way also plans to unveil an Android version of its app at the top of next year, as well as a redesign and a few new features.