WEST BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — On any given day, there are hundreds of events going on in the metro Detroit area. And Stuart Carlin is a man who likes to know what is going on. So the West Bloomfield entrepreneur, founder of the successful worldwide metalworking machinery listing, MachineTools.com, and an international sports fishing site called AnglerWeb.com, began to do what he does best — aggregate.
“The idea is to have every machine in the world on one site, all the fishing guides and lodges, all the news and events in one town,” Carlin said. “I wanted to inform and unite the community. No one really knows about what’s going on in their towns. When there’s more awareness, more involvement — people get behind the town a little more.”
Carlin began to work with programmers to build a platform that would accommodate everything from school lunches and worship services to high school football games and moonlight madness sales.
Launched in January, 2011, Local Stew, a pun on Carlin’s name, has grown steadily in users, and in geographic scope, piloting in West Bloomfield and expanding into Detroit, Ann Arbor, Farmington-Farmington Hills, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, and Royal Oak-Ferndale, and continuing to grow.
“More towns and more states, real estate agents at an agency, stores at a mall, food at a restaurant,” said Carlin, describing the depth of information that he is adding to the basic structure of directory and calendar listings for each town.
Local Stew has an open platform that allows the community to directly add news, events, directory listings, coupons and specials and announcements without requiring an account. Local Stew staff has reached out to schools, churches and synagogues, the business community, and non-profits, becoming regular features at Chamber of Commerce meetings and anywhere someone might need to know about Local Stew or have information to add to Local Stew.
Local Stew listings are free. Carlin wants to encourage community participation. He is following the same model he used to build his other ventures. “First we create the product,” said Carlin, who built up listings and users on MachineTools.com and AnglerWeb.com for a full year before charging machinery sellers or fishing guides for listings.
Always looking to deliver information the way users want it served, Carlin makes sure that all Local Stew content goes out automatically on twitter and in daily email updates, in addition being accessible in mobile and online listings. Next, Local Stew is going to rewrite the conversation that follows “Where do you want to go to eat?” with food listings – on Local Stew, the user that has a salad jones will be able to go to the “food” tab and select salads and see all the salads at different restaurants all over town.
“It’s a new way for people to find out what’s going on in their town. It’s never been done before,” said Carlin.
Local Stew is live on line and on mobile in many southeastern Michigan communities and is spreading across the state, with an Iphone App due out in June. There are over 27,000 local events and 8,000 businesses, service providers and non-profit organizations list on Local Stew with more being added daily.