Brittany Smith is a Union City, Indiana native who’s fallen in love with Indianapolis. If you’ve tuned into local TV anytime over the last 4 years, chances are you’ll recognize her. Her bright red hair and bright smile are an extension of a bright personality, who’s perspective is sincere and from the heart. Brian talked to Brittany about her growth within Yelp, her perspective on what more users can utilize Yelp for, and her favorite food experience that’s missing from Indy.
Brian: Hey Facebook Live, it’s Brian with Homesense Heating and Cooling once again. I’m here with Brittany Smith of Yelp Indy.
Brittany: Hi guys, hey!
Brian: So, as we’ve done in the past few, the goal here is just to talk about cool things going on in Indy with cool customers of Homesense, and nobody’s cooler than Brittany Smith.
Brittany: Oh, that’s putting it up on a pedestal.
Brian: So, one thing that I think I remember, is you’re not from Indy. Is that right?
Brittany: Union City, Indiana.
Brittany: So I grew up on a farm in a very small town, two hours from here.
Brittany: So I’m from Indiana, but much smaller town than this.
Brian: Union City is north of Richmond?
Brittany: Yes, Richmond was our big town. So, it’s about an hour and a half to two hours from here. I grew up, my parents are farmers, own a trucking business.
Brian: So naturally you’d be like, a foodie.
Brittany: Yeah, makes total sense right? We didn’t even grow our own food.
Brian: Is Ghyslain Chocolate there?
Brittany: Yes, good memory! Ghyslain, I actually worked there during the summer during college.
Brittany: That’s like two miles from my house.
Brian: It’s like the coolest chocolate ever.
Brittany: Yes, it is wonderful, and now I’m trying to think, I think they have a location in Indy. Louisville has a location too, yeah. Yes, let’s talk about chocolate!
Brian: Anyway, not my intent there. But you’ve been with Yelp for how many years now?
Brittany: Six years next month.
Brittany: It’s flown by. It’s hard to believe.
Brian: So, what I was talking about before, your role has expanded now?
Brittany: Yes, as of October I’ve stepped into managing our Midwest team of community managers. So for six, five and a half years, I was working as community director of Indiana, and now my team consists of my replacement, Niki Kingston, here in Indy, Detroit, Cleveland, Louisville, Columbus and Cincinnati are on my team.
Brian: Wow, so do you have to travel to those spaces?
Brittany: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun to get to experience those cities, and then try to come home and be like, “Okay, what could we be doing here in Indy?” because I wanna keep my feet still wet in the community, and still be doing stuff for our own city as a second project.
Brian: So how long have you been doing that for now?
Brittany: Six, oh my gosh, six months, it’s flown by.
Brian: Okay, so you’ve gotten some exposure to those other cities. What is it like? Obviously, Indy has grown in a lot of ways. And as we talked, Yelp is not just about food and drink, but within that sort of space that Yelp is most known for. What’s Indy doing well? What are some of these other cities sort of maybe a little further on the edge that we could be doing?
Brittany: Yeah, you know, just looking at those Midwestern cities, I think Indianapolis does a fantastic job of walk-ability, bike-ability, if that’s a word. So, going from one neighborhood to the next, being able to get there very safely, having those areas connected, and not as- we view ourselves as being car-driven, but really when you compare us to some of those other markets, it’s pretty-the Cultural Trail obviously was a game changer for that. And then something I would love to see us work on a little more is murals and art installations. I think of Cincinnati, their mural scene is incredible.
Brittany: So taking those different walls that you see throughout the city and turning them into canvases. And one other little side project I want to start up, my husband keeps getting on me to do this, is window boxes.
Brittany: So, when I travel to some of these markets outside, Findlay Market, for one example, in Cincinnati, they have these beautiful window boxes with flowers overflowing, and just the atmosphere that creates, so I would love to see some more of that in Indianapolis.
Brian: It’s like European, is what strikes me.
Brittany: Exactly, it’s just such a simple and affordable touch, but it just changes the way you see the space.
Brian: I like it, there’s definitely a market there.
Brittany: Watch out for those window boxes!
Brian: Yeah, I dig it! So one of the reasons that we’re here at Refinery46 today, we’ll talk about that another time, you get to see a lot of cool spots in the city. Having that breadth of experience and seeing a lot of things, what sort of trends, if there are any trends that you’re seeing as far as spaces in the city, and how, or if, are you seeing that impacting the areas in particular?
Brittany: Oh yeah, I’m actually just thinking of this space. I’m a co-working member at Industrious on Mass Ave.
Brittany: So, just seeing how you can bring so many people together from different backgrounds, but find ways for them to collaborate under one roof, I’m just amazed at seeing how many people work remote now. I’ve worked remote for six years, and when I first started doing that, it was like nobody was working remote. It was such a different scene. And now, tons of people are working remote, even at least once or twice a week. And we throw parties now that are coworking parties and you’ll get 75 people showing up to cowork in the middle of the day, so it’s really fun to see how that has changed, and seeing creative minds come together in different ways.
Brian: Yeah, that’s really cool. That’s what we’re hoping to create here.
Brittany: Yeah, right here.
Brian: So, we talked a little bit, and not to put you on the spot, but what are some of the areas that Yelp is trying to expand their brand presence?
Brittany: Home services, it’s like-when you had reached out about this,
Brian : Leading question.
Brittany: I’m like “this was not intentional”, I’m like, “yes, home services!” We’re super jazzed about them, I’ve been jazzed about them for a while. I was telling you about in Columbus, we’re working on a campaign called ‘Adulting with Yelp’, and I’m like “home services can be sexy!” It’s something we all need, we need recommendations from other people, it’s not just food and drink on Yelp. So getting people to think about those great experiences they’ve had and giving some love to those businesses and not just your favorite place to get a beer, you know, it’s more than that. Because home services do really well on Yelp, so it’s making sure you get those businesses some attention.
Brian: I agree wholeheartedly.
Brittany: Yes, yes!
Brian: Write really helpful reviews.
Brittany: He’s rocking his five-stars on Yelp now.
Brian: Yeah, that’s right!
Brittany: And that’s how I think I found you originally.
Brittany: Years ago when I bought my house, I know I turned to those reviews, not just because I work for Yelp, but you don’t want to bring a creepy person into your house. You want to know who you’re bringing in, be able to trust them, and hold them accountable from friends that you’ve seen who have used that business.
Brian: Absolutely, I mean there’s a reason why it’s survived the ebb and flow of other, lesser review sites that are up there. It’s been a critical part of our business. But obviously it is best known for food and drink, and I know you’ve got a window that we’ve gotta get you out of here with, but I’m sure you’ve been a lot, to a lot of cities, and have eaten at a lot of places. What’s one thing from the food and drinks scene that you’re like, “I’m just waiting for a place that has ‘x’, and it’ll make very happy when that happens.”
Brittany: I know I’m going back to Cincinnati, but I’m thinking of this meal that I had a few months ago that I cannot stop thinking about it. It was veal ravioli in this basement out in Sotto, I think, I’m gonna make sure I don’t butcher this, in a basement, it felt like a grotto in Italy, so you go down and you’ve got the exposed rock-looking walls, a candle-lit tables, and an open-concept kitchen where you can see them actually making the pasta right there.
Brian: Wow, that’s cool.
Brittany: We have Nicole-Taylor’s here in Indy, but creating a dinner experience with fresh-made pasta, and that basement scene, I feel like we have some more basements in Indy that we can use, the same way Libertine uses one.
Brian: Yeah, yeah.
Brittany: It’s like a whole business world underground. Like we are right now actually. We’re in a basement.
Brittany: So yeah, creating use of that space,
Brian: That’s a great thought.
Brittany: It’s been cool.
Brian: So, aspiring Italian chefs out there, talk to Brittany about the concept.
Brittany: That’s right, go have that veal ravioli. Actually I’m like, “I want to go back there in a few months”
Brian: Is there anything else that like, again, we’re just chatting here, but anything else that you’re like, “hey, I’d love to get this message out about what I’m doing here, what Yelp’s doing”?
Brittany: Yeah, you know, thinking about those business owners that are not just food and drink, so from the consumer’s standpoint and from the business owner’s standpoint, thinking about using Yelp as a platform to give those businesses love, and then on the other side, making sure businesses are following the lead of businesses like yours, and using that resource and marketing themselves. I think of you, I think of Hope Plumbing, and showing that homes services can be marketing savvy, can get the word out about themselves. I think people underestimate the backgrounds in how successful these businesses are. So it’s really cool to see what you guys are doing.
Brian: Thank you.
Brittany: And you know, getting even education systems, to be thinking about getting kids training and on those paths to careers.
Brittany: I always amaze kids, like when I go back to my hometown and talk to the high school, I’m like, “do you know how much a plumber makes? Do you know how much an electrician makes?”
Brian: It’s unbelievable.
Brittany: You don’t have to go to a four-year, I mean, there are technical degrees.
Brian: That’s a huge platform and a missed opportunity for so many years that message has been lost.
Brittany: I think they’re working on it.
Brian: Hopefully make some progress there.
Brian: Thank you for the time!
Brittany: Thanks for having me, this was great!
Brian: If you guys have any questions, just shoot ’em on Facebook, and I’ll make sure Brittany gets ’em. But thank you once again.
Brittany: Thank you.