It’s hard to keep track of everything this city has to offer and it’s hard to effectively brag about all the cool places you go if no one (not even you) knows where those places are. That’s why two Williamsburg residents – Samia Saleem and Dana Steffe – invented Karta, a shareable mapping system that allows users to make and trade maps of all their favorite spots.
You might be asking yourself, “Okay, so how is that any different from Google My Maps? Aside from the fact that’s it made by some Brooklyn brainiacs? DIY, baby!”
Sounds like you’re already sold, but Saleem explains that Karta is centered around collaboration and sharing with friends. “While it’s a tool similar to Google being a tool,” she says, “the core of the product is inherently social; the key being that a place is ‘valuable’ when someone you know, or someone with similar interests, shares it.”
The whole thing started three years ago when Steffe moved to New York from San Francisco and she and Saleem struggled to keep track of all the places they wanted to visit in the city together. The couple realized there wasn’t an adequate tool that would allow them to simply put things they wanted to do on a map, add personalization to why these places were special to them, and easily share it. What began as a side project has now become a full-time gig, and for the last eight months Saleem and Steffe have been building out the core of their product. They launched the private invite-only beta site last month.
Currently users can only get on the site by requesting an invite, or by getting invited by a friend who has already joined. Each user gets three invites – harkening back to the early days of Gmail excitement. The site now has 345 users, with 500 on the waiting list, and should be open to the public at the end of this year.
In the meantime, we asked Saleem and Steffe to draw up a map of the best spots in Williamsburg for internet moguls to unwind after a long day of making cool shit. A screenshot of their map is above, and their suggestions are below.
Black Brick Coffee
A beautifully designed cafe on the south side with yummy pastries. Good for meetings and to get a few hours of work done.
They have wi-fi here — a really yummy burger and milkshake spot with the internet. Sounds great to me 🙂
They make a damn good cappucino. This spot is small & quaint, so while it’s not the best to have a proper meeting, it’s good for alone time.
Use a computer of your choosing. It can cost you up to $40 if you don’t know the basics: like how to surf the internet or use your email.
1 of my favs: they don’t seem to mind how long you stay as well. Get a table and make it a cafe work day. You may even find team Karta here!
Oslo Coffee Roasters
Great coffee and it’s fun to sit and work at the big communal table in front. Good meeting spot too!
South 4th Bar & Cafe
This place opens at 7 a.m. So you can start your work day off right or wrong. An unpretentious bar serving coffee and pastries in the morning.
Another great spot for coffee, meetings and all-day work days.
Toby’s Estate Coffee
A great coffee spot for the coffee connoisseur to work and people-watch. This place can get super packed too.
I’ve eavesdropped on hilarious conversation here. Bring headphones to focus and def. grab a table in the back if you want to stay a while.
Super sceney, but it’s nice to sit out front with your computer, coffee and people-watch on Bedford while you work. The wi-fi costs $ here.