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113. How To Use Behavioral Economics to Create Thriving Cities, an interview with Colu

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Today I am excited to introduce you to a really cool company called Colu. The company was launched in 2014 and currently has a staff of 40 people in the US, UK, and Israel with a mission to make more vibrant, connective, and inclusive cities around the world.
Joining me on the show today is Michael Mazur, Colu’s VP of Business Development and Global Business Development Manager Elad Erdan. One of the things I really love about this company is they were doing some really smart things in previous years that are incredibly applicable during this pandemic to help boost economic recovery and keep cities thriving.
In our conversation, we talk about an amazing project they did in Tel Aviv that helped a shopping area see 700 percent growth in 45 days. We also talk about a new project that just launched in Akron, Ohio and get into some brainstorming around a topic a lot of people around the world have been talking about: masks. Michael, Elad, and I had a short conversation about this and came up with some pretty interesting potential solutions. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on them!

Show Notes:

  • [01:14] Colu has done some really smart things in previous years that are incredibly applicable during this pandemic to help boost economic recovery and keep cities thriving.
  • [03:34] Colu works with cities in the U.S. and abroad, by rewarding resident behaviors that meet the strategic goals of each city. 
  • [04:41] They have worked with many different researchers and experts to create their processes including Dan Ariely. 
  • [07:00] Right now cities mostly need help supporting their small businesses. 
  • [08:45] Each city has its own unique challenges and behaviors they want to promote. 
  • [10:05] They share about the Jerusalem Boulevard Project. 
  • [12:11] They used their platform in Tel Aviv to support the local businesses. They used their mobile app to tell the residents the story of small businesses. 
  • [14:18] The business owners in that area experienced a growth of more than 700% in the first 45 days of the initiative.
  • [15:16] In the next 45 days (even though they no longer had any incentives) the residents continued to visit the area because of the story and the emotional connection that was established. 
  • [18:04] They are working to ultimately create loyalty between the residents and the local businesses. 
  • [19:42] Akron, Ohio is the first city to launch in the states. 
  • [21:26] They created a coronavirus task force to research and figure out how they could best help cities and what cities are going through.
  • [24:13] They are looking at the average price per transaction, the way people consume, and the way people shop by segment. 
  • [26:03] In Akron, you can get rewarded for shopping at a local business whether it is online or in-person. When you are ready to redeem your local coins then you have to be in-person. 
  • [27:46] The city can monitor and change the program as it runs. 
  • [28:54] They are also using challenges; encouraging people to develop a new habit. 
  • [31:35] Encouraging people to wear masks is something that is very difficult and a lot of people are struggling with. 
  • [33:16] Cities started giving businesses carrots for enforcing mask-wearing. In Israel, they reward businesses that are keeping the rules and conditions of the purple badge. 
  • [35:55] We need to take mask-wearing from a negative experience to a positive experience. Say, if you get caught with a mask then you can be rewarded. 
  • [36:45] It is important to highlight the celebrations. We need to acknowledge and recognize people when they are doing something good for themselves and the community.
  • [39:05] Consider this: If you wear a mask you might randomly win a prize. 
  • [40:25] They want to help as many cities as possible in terms of supporting their key points. They focus on small businesses and diversity. 
  • [42:46] It is their mission to help cities think outside the box and in ways that will create long-term change. 
  • [45:12] They are trying to help cities unlock their true potential. 
  • [47:19] Economic recovery will take time, but hopefully, companies like Colu can help make that a smoother, faster transition for many cities around the world.

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