Small business: Your business online - Chris Smith

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Chris Smith, founder and CEO of Stqry and its technology. STQRY is based in Wellington and also has a small sales office in Seattle, WA

STQRY founder & CEO Chris Smith (left), with Ezel Kokcu, Co-Founder & Account Manager at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. Photo / Supplied
STQRY founder & CEO Chris Smith (left), with Ezel Kokcu, Co-Founder & Account Manager at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. Photo / Supplied

STQRY (pronounced "story") is a mobile application that helps people all over the world explore, engage with, and discover fascinating stories. Our current primary markets are museums, art galleries, zoos, public art agencies, park services, and other art, cultural & historic organizations. Visitors to a venue may use their smartphones or tablet devices to further engage with any exhibit by either scanning the STQRY QR codes visible near each artifact - or by just browsing via the app directly to a particular story. The individual stories are multi-media, including text, images, audio clips, videos, and/or links to further info. Along with a multitude of additional features, the app provides users with a free and easy-to-use single mobile resource for engaging with the world of art and culture - while also providing the organizations with a robust and flexible venue app.

Our customers

We have now expanded across the country with a growing number of amazing organisations. In October of 2012, we launched in the U.S. in both Seattle and San Francisco. Some of our notable clients are:

- New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (America's Cup)
- Auckland Zoo
- Auckland Museum
- Kelly Tarlton's SEA LIFE Aquarium
- Te Puia
- Wellington Zoo
- Wellington City Council
- Waiouru Army Museum

- Seattle Art Museum
- City of Seattle
- Washington State Arts Commission
- The Experience Music Project (EMP) Museum
- City of San Francisco
- San Francisco Asian Art Museum
- Walt Disney Museum

We have plans in 12-18 months to expand to Europe and other English speaking countries such as Canada.

A unique STQRY advantage: we connect all of the venues to each other via our Explore Mode where users may find interesting stories nearby, and then use GPS directions to visit. This provides a cross-marketing platform for the STQRY organisations, creating new avenues for attracting more visitors, engaging in market-wide promotions, and increasing revenue.

How it all began

The idea for STQRY came to us in early 2012 when standing in front of the pelican exhibit at the Wellington Zoo. There was a small sign in front noting two general facts; one being, "a pelican can hold up to 13 litres of water in its beak". This seemed an astonishing amount of water and we wanted to know exactly how that was possible. This curiosity was the spark that started STQRY. We recognized that people want information that is relevant and specific to where they are at the moment. A few months later, in late June 2012, the Wellington Zoo became the first organization to launch the STQRY mobile app. Now their visitors have immediate access to interesting stories that are unique and targeted to exactly the animals and exhibits they are viewing. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.

International from day one

Since the beginning, we have considered STQRY an international product. Even in our earliest release of the app, we built-in translation features. For example, the app will automatically translate text into the language of the phone (over 60 languages) - providing a helpful resource for visitors from other countries.

What potential is there for this technology and how scalable is it?

We started STQRY at the right time. The art & cultural world has been actively looking for solutions to engage their visitors with mobile technology. We have built the platform so it may be entirely self-managed and self-curated. Meaning, organizations may register, pay, create stories and publish them directly from our custom online content management system. This empowers us to focus on viral and digital marketing efforts - allowing for scalability without adding additional personnel.


We received angel funding in mid 2012. We have since been funded through grants and by the revenue we receive from subscription fees. We are in the process of preparing for a series-A round, most likely out of the US, as well as introducing additional revenue streams.

Protecting the IP

We are protecting ourselves by building strong relationships with notable clients in the industry. We are also working closely with these partners to create content on STQRY that becomes invaluable. With these two strategies, we intend to build as many barriers to entry as possible.

Working with other tech businesses in New Zealand and the US

Currently, we have had the opportunity to work with a couple of New Zealand tech companies. Additionally, we expect to continue to form more partnerships in the near future. For example, we have plans to work with a game development firm as an advisor for an upcoming feature called STQRY Passport. We are also working with another tech company to assist with live data feeds for the America's Cup.

Tell us the stories of your family businesses. We are looking for a broad range of ethnicities. What makes you think your business will keep going for a number of generations? Email me, Gill South, at the link below:

- NZ Herald

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