Alexandre Pinto on Culture, History and Heritage in the Digital Era

At last month’s AppCircus São Paulo, Just in Time Tourist (JiTT) was among the 10 finalist applications competing for a spot at the top. The app is a product of iClio, a Portugal-based company dedicated to the creation and publication of content related to history, heritage and culture. The company is one of many looking to capitalize on Brazil’s growth as an international destination for tourism and travel.

iClio is not new to the sector of history and culture – formerly known as Clio, its new name is representative of its digitalshift. With company headquarters located in Portugal, it also boasts a presence on the ground in Brazil via a partnership with São Paulo game and app studio Roimaker.

JiTT, an independent travel app for tourists based on the time they have allotted in a given city, is one of iClio’s principal products. It is currently functional in four European cities – Rome, Paris, London and Barcelona – and is in the process of expanding to other locales in Europe and the Americas. The roll-out process for the app in each locale is unique and a large part of what sets the application apart from similar products. The information provided on JiTT is provided by historians and researchers who have gathered independent information specifically for the application. The application does not contain information received from various sources online – it provides creative, original and professional content and democratizes information.

Alexandre Pinto, CEO of iClio, took some time out to speak with us about the company. He touched on the issues of cross-cultural offices, Brazil’s travel technology prospects, and the way technology has influenced the realm of content.

Emily Stewart: iClio has offices in Portugal and Brazil. How does doing business differ in the two countries? What are the advantages and challenges of working on the ground in Brazil?

Alexandre Pinto: Despite the proximity of the culture and history that connect Portugal and Brazil, being in Europe and America, in economic terms, means two opposite moments – retraction (Europe) and expansion (Brazil). The big challenge to get to Brazil is made easier by the ease of communications in Portuguese to establish partnerships.

Having overcome the communications barrier and established partnerships, business proposals are good for iClio, for partners in Brazil and for customers as well. The situation is win-win, so all parties should be satisfied. We bring the best of what is done in Europe in terms of innovation and add in the market knowledge and creativity of Brazilian partners to introduce products to the market that are innovative and perfectly adapted to market demands.

Being in an emerging market worldwide is attractive in itself, especially when there is a history of over 500 years of connecting Portugal and Brazil. This is a successful partnership, and we want to reinforce this success story.

ES: As Brazil has created so much buzz as of late, how have you adjusted your products and business plan accordingly? What opportunities are you looking to take advantage of in the country?

AP: Our focus on mobile applications and games in which content is of the utmost importance. In emerging economies like Brazil, market, opportunities and ideas are not lacking.

The main opportunities that we seek in the short term are the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. In the long term, we would like to enter the market of culture, where the excellence of content is a main priority. We want to collaborate with corporations and government bodies to democratize access to culture. Through partnerships with Brazilian companies, we are putting the final touches on projects of this nature. We are excited about a successful Luso-Brazilian partnership.

ES: You deal with content related to history, heritage and culture. How has evolving technology changed the way you work and the shape your products and services take?

AP: Technology has not changed our view of history, culture and heritage. It’s just expanded horizons and helped us see that there is a new world to explore. We are not locked in libraries and archives. Now, we are presented with a market of products and services that help society to have access to information that was once only the domain of a few.

At iClio, we specialize in the production of content for new digital media to meet growing demands for high-quality content. We create products that provide a gratifying experience and are tuned to the capabilities of new devices and media channels. iClio’s mission is to build bridges between content and technology, focusing on accuracy, usability, design quality and effective project management. We are eager to discover new environments, becoming iClio – the muse of history, culture and heritage for new digital media.

As mentioned, JiTT is only available for European locales, but iClio is in the process of developing the product for Latin America. The company is currently developing partnerships with enterprises based in Latin America, especially in Brazil and other countries that are becoming important references for global tourism.