Michelle Matthews

Name: Michelle Matthews

Website: www.deckofsecrets.com

Twitter handle/Instagram: @SecretsHQ

Works at: Deck of Secrets

Tell us the story behind Deck of Secrets…

Deck of Secrets is city guide brand that takes the format of a deck of cards. Each deck features a highly specialised topic such the latest Breakfast & Brunch guide for London.

What role has digital, especially mobile, played in publishing and city guides?

The first digital impact was the move to digital cameras. Professional photographers took longer to make the move so I bought a very expensive DSLR back in 2001 and gave it to the photographer to use. A $5k digital camera was easy to justify when it saved $7k of scanning plus film and processing. Then the advances with Adobe Acrobat which allowed for in-screen editing as opposed to printing out hundreds of pages every for every draft. After much flirting with mobile platforms I teamed up with Shaun Ervine in 2008 to release DRINK. Melbourne an iPhone app guide to Melbourne’s bars, one of the first 10,000 apps released. This was followed by a dining guide for Sydney which was featured on the “There’s an app for that” TV commercial. These days I’m looking more to behind the scenes cloud services to manage my increasingly nomadic and minimalist lifestyle. A recent favourite is https://www.receipt-bank.com

Who do you think is doing cool stuff in our industries?

  • Instagram is a real passion of mine. An elegant app, fun and easy to use with just the right amount of features. http://statigr.am and http://printstagr.am/ add the fun and functionality.
  • Lockitron is a hardware and software combo that allows home owners to grant access to their property remotely and allows the front door to be opened using a mobile app. Perfect for Airbnb hosts.
  • Memrise: I’m working on my Spanish with this interactive learning website in preparation for a few months in Madrid later this year.
  • Bitcasa: “Infinite storage on your desktop” OK, you got me, where do I sign. I love the promise of this new website still in beta mode.
  • The Sixty One: this site isn’t new but I listen to it for hours each day discovering great new music.

You’re a big Airbnb advocate and live a digital nomad lifestyle – what does this involve and what tips do you have for someone wanting to emulate your life?

Airbnb started as a great way to earn revenue while I was on holiday, then a month long booking allowed me to take another location independent trip but now as Airbnb has grown I’m more away than at home and my mortgage is covered. And when I travel, Airbnb is always my first choice for accommodation. It has truly changed my life.

What’s your favourite city in the world?

After countless visits I finally fell in love with London in 2011. In 2009 I would have said Buenos Aires. It was Tokyo in 1995. And it’s always Melbourne.

What’s the hardest challenge you’ve had to face work-wise?

Preparing for the next change, staying positive and not giving up. Last year the equivalent of 50% of my retail outlets shut down, one of my distributors/sales teams is about to shut down and margins are shrinking. In business and I life I now aim for simplicity, efficiency and varied revenue streams.

What’s next for you and your business?

I’m expanding my range of UK titles currently there are two: bars, breakfast and brunch. But I’m heading to Bali next month so perhaps you’ll see a Bali guide come out of that.