New free app aims to help Ann Arbor and Ypsi creatives promote events, products, services to locals

The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber (A2Y Chamber) has moved one step closer to rolling out NEEDEE, an app designed to connect Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti residents directly to the local creative community.


NEEDEE, which was designed by Ann Arbor company NewFoundry, aims to create a centralized platform where creatives can promote services, products, and events directly to local residents. About 50 people have applied to participate in the beta launch, which starts this week. The app will be free to all users, although it may offer paid advertising in the future.


Jon Eslinger is the co-founder of DO:BETTER, a local branding agency that worked on the app. He says testers will weigh in on NEEDEE's features, usability, and functionality over the next month.


"Before the spring, we hope to have concluded the beta program and will have a better understanding of what needs to be done," he says. "As a business owner myself, I'm looking forward to these next steps because NEEDEE is the only app of its kind for our community."


A2Y Chamber President Diane Keller shares Eslinger's excitement as they tentatively move toward an April launch. She says the initiative "can grow the economy in a way that not only helps the creative community, but also helps the broader community."


"Think of the entrepreneur who wants to do a pop-up show or the graphic designer who wants to get their name out locally or the person that needs help finding someone nearby to work with them to create a website," Keller says.


She says NEEDEE will also prove valuable to people who are new to the community.


"Maybe someone comes to visit their sister and wants to know what is happening within the arts community within 10 miles of where her sister lives," Keller says. "She can easily use NEEDEE to get connected."


Eslinger echoes Keller's sentiment that NEEDEE has the potential to create connection, community, and prosperity. Noting that "many brilliant people in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti who are really talented get lost in giant recruiting tools," he says that NEEDEE will be a game-changer for creatives across the region.


Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at

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