Australians in Startups: Catherine Jackson

When Catherine Jackson moved to NYC, the need to remember great places, and constant requests from friends for recommendations on places to go, gave her the inspiration for her App:  MyFavePlaces.

We sat down with Catherine over a a flat white and asked her to share her story.

Where were you born?

Brisbane, but moved to Sydney early high school years.

What brought you to New York?

I transferred across with Macquarie Group to set up a project office for their Risk Management Group and be able to help connect them better with Sydney HQ on some initiatives.

What did you do in Australia before coming to the US?

I was working at Macquarie on a range of projects around the organization. In my ‘spare time’ before I moved  had started my PhD on film, finance and government. Aside from the challenge of distance, I had to let go once I saw the amount of work waiting for me in the USA.

What’s the inspiration behind your company?

Moving to NYC was a fairly quick unplanned event. While I’ve traveled a fair bit, I really didn’t know NYC well at all. As I was discovering great places here, I wanted a way to quickly be able to record them.

I’m also very forgetful with names and can’t always remember the address. I tried using Notes but that is fiddly and not really an organizer tool. The contact list on your phone is for people not places so I thought there must be an app I can use.

I downloaded a quite a few. Most are focused in niches on food/drink or shops or travel. Which is not reflective of how we live, we need all of those and more.

On other apps I didn’t want to be ‘seen’ publicly checking in all the time or they had a really gamified experience of earning badges, becoming mayors winning stuffed toys…Whereas really just wanted my A-Z list.

The whole concept for MyFavePlaces is that it’s meant to be a positive experience. We don’t do negative reviews, instead we just don’t spend time featuring the place – life is too short to waste time and energy on those when there are so many great places out there.

What advice would you offer another Australian coming to the US?

Don’t solely hang with expats. Try to work with locals and understand their frame of reference on work and life. It’s vastly different from Australia and professionally and socially you don’t want to make assumptions that they have the same world and local views as Australians.

The more you travel around the US, the more you learn about how different each city and state is from each other. Get into local networking groups. It all helps for making friendships as well as work.

Enjoy being an Aussie in the US. We know how to have fun and Americans love that too 🙂 Finally tell your other Aussies about The Australian Community too!

What gets you up in the morning? 

I love New York and love the people and the energy of the city. There’s a lot more I can  do here than I ever could at home (and I love Australia!). The can do attitude here, hard work ethic and the opportunities drive me. This is the only city in the world where they are not scared of challenges and unknowns. They’ll say “…ok let’s give it a shot.”

Where to next for your company?

Lots! What is available today is 1/80th of where I want to take it. Its the baseline product. Soon we’ll have companies, professionals  and influencers on there who have a genuine need for their clients/followers to easily and quickly see the list of places they recommend.

We’ll create an area for merchants and offers and well as influencer/celebrity partnerships and we have some philanthropic initiatives planned too. MFP as always designed to have an aspect of utility (as I like to make things that are useful), but also have a sense of fun, shared discovery and also do some good in the community along the way.

To learn more you can visit MyFavePlaces