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If you were guiding visiting friends around Vancouver, would a horse-drawn carriage ride in Stanley Park be tops on your to-do list? Probably not—but as Jim McGovern discovered when he was reading up on Vancouver tourist destinations, it ranks pretty high. And that got him thinking, What if there were an app that could connect local insight with visiting outdoorsy types?
“When I went to Italy I tried to hire someone to show us around, so I went to Trip Advisor,” says McGovern, who spent 34 years in the finance industry. “I realized that everything I was reading was just what other tourists were saying about what other tourists told them. There was no real platform for what the locals were doing.”He launched Yervana in February to offer just that. The app lets local experts post “adventures” that they have created for “explorers”: a snowshoe to Cypress Mountain’s hidden cabins, for example, will run you $50; a five-hour bike tour with coffee, snack and a beer at the end will cost $100. Yervana handles the bookings and insurance, and takes 25 percent of the fee. Locals decide when they’re available to take guests around, and, like most sharing economy-type models, users review the experiences online afterward so future explorers get a sense of what’s great and what’s less so.
“We launched in the Sea to Sky corridor because it’s probably one of the greatest playgrounds in North America,” he says. “Yervana is a community of locals and that ‘real’ moment you get here.”