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CultureMap – A local lifestyle concierge

Texans are full of pride, so it’s easy to understand why CultureMap (www.culturemap.com), which helps people discover what is special about their city, is now the go-to lifestyle website in the state.

The idea for CultureMap sprang from the imagination of restaurateur Lonnie Schiller, CEO of Schiller Del Grande Restaurant Group, owner and operator of the legendary Cafe Annie, now RDG + Bar Annie. At first, Schiller envisioned a geographically aware city guide that would enable users to drive the digital streets, searching for restaurants, bars, hotels, clubs, shops and galleries.

“Being in the restaurant business, I was always looking for new places to go,” Schiller said. “I thought, ‘What if I could have the very latest info about the very best restaurants on a map somewhere so I could see what was near at all times?’”

The concept was rooted in the notion that we live our life on a grid, and not in categories, which is how traditional online city guides had been organized.

As the project evolved, however, Schiller’s original idea blossomed into a full-fledged media outlet. Award-winning former Houston Chronicle Style Editor Clifford Pugh joined the team as editor-in-chief, followed by legendary Houston Chronicle society scribe Shelby Hodge. By the time the site launched in November 2009, CultureMap was home to the biggest lifestyle editorial staff in Houston.

CultureMap exploded onto the scene as a voice of authority, integrity and insider cultural news, covering topics such as dining, arts, entertainment, fashion, real estate and society. The editorial staff’s innovative reporting and commitment to lifestyle news coverage filled a void in the media landscape. Seasoned journalists, driven by clear editorial vision and aided by revolutionary technology, would soon take “the little website that could” into the big leagues.

After its initial success in Houston, CultureMap set its sights on Austin, with its unrivaled music, exploding restaurant and bar scene, thriving outdoor lifestyle and eclectic cultural makeup. Once again, a team of seasoned, multitalented editors and writers, led by Editor-in-Chief Caitlin Ryan, who brings with her extensive local and international digital experience, created compelling content that reflects Austin’s unique personality.

CultureMap recreated the magic yet again in September 2012, when a top-tier group of local media veterans, including Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Chininis, Managing Editor Claire St. Amant and Dallas restaurant reporter and food critic Teresa Gubbins came together to launch CultureMap Dallas. In just a few short months, thanks to the success in Houston and Austin and the depth and breadth of its local intelligence, CultureMap Dallas has become an essential lifestyle news resource.

The three cities in which CultureMap exists could not be more distinct, but the winning formula is the same: local lifestyle news, produced by seasoned, award-winning journalists and delivered via an innovative digital platform.

In July 2012, Chairman and CEO Alyce Alston joined the CultureMap team. With her publishing expertise — as founding publisher of O, The Oprah Magazine, among many other accomplishments — she intends to take CultureMap to the next level, with plans to launch in cities across the country.

“CultureMap dominates in its current markets because it provides people entertainment and information that they can’t find elsewhere,” Alston said. “While traditional media is decreasing its lifestyle coverage, CultureMap is becoming the go-to site for exploring and discovering what is hot and happening.”

As each city continues to deliver exclusive, up-to-the-minute local lifestyle content — coupled with curated, geotargeted city guides and other tools and services — CultureMap is working on cutting-edge technological advances that will establish the company as a leader in the digital media space.

 

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