Teamwork on CurbsideSTL Earns a Moonshot Award Nomination
Attilio D’Agostino, the co-founder of Novel creative agency, has for two decades been producing original content about local small businesses and their events and offerings.
He was in the midst of building a new website for Urban Chestnut Brewing Company with the Novel digital team when public health and government officials started issuing guidelines for social distancing last month due the coronavirus pandemic.
“We know these small businesses intimately, and knowing how devastated they are going to be is really a personal matter for us,” says D’Agostino.
The team noticed a Kansas City food podcast, Open Belly, that had created an online list of which restaurants would remain open and offer curbside food delivery service. They thought they could adapt the concept for St. Louis and produce an easier, searchable interface for people to learn which local restaurants and retailers were still cooking. The result is CurbsideSTL.
“We wanted to design something that would look simple and cool and make people want to engage with it,” D’Agostino says. “We thought that was key to actually driving customers to these businesses.”
LaunchCode, a nonprofit tech education and job placement organization, has honored the Novel team’s efforts with a nomination for a 2020 Moonshot Award, which “recognize the efforts of St. Louis trailblazers—those working toward new solutions to better our community,” according to the group. The 50 finalists are set to be announced on April 10.
“This will go a long way to further propelling our mission to build awareness around the need in our community to support these businesses and their workers,” D’Agostino says.
CurbsideSTL, which the Novel team had up and running within days, features an alphabetical listing of every neighborhood you can think of—and some you probably have never heard of. Within each neighborhood, there are tabs for the various businesses with information about how they offer their products: takeout, curbside and/or delivery.
The site uses a crowdsource model and asks visitors to update or add information about local establishments. Within a few days of launching, the site had more than 400 listings. By the end of the first week, they had more than 1,000 listings and as many as 200 people per minute searching the site.
The Novel team has since partnered with Known & Grown STL on Farm-to-Home food listings on CurbsideSTL. They’re also working with Explore St. Louis, the local visitor’s bureau, on “STL Take It Home,” an initiative that includes information on The Gateway Resilience Fund, an ongoing fundraiser for restaurants and their employees, and offers guidelines for safely taking out food. (One tip: “Ask to add gratuity if it isn’t already included. If you must sign a credit card receipt upon pick up, bring your own pen.”)
“Through my conversations and messages with the people who own these small businesses and the people who work for them, I have come to have an even greater appreciation for the challenges they are going through in their lives,” D’Agostino says. “Saving their businesses and employing their people is about so much more than profits and commerce. I hear the fear for lost futures, disrupted tomorrows and battered communities.”