GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A tech start-up has partnered with ArtPrize to show attendees what’s going on near them.

Flockx — pronounced Flock-ex — started as an AI tech company focused on generative AI and agent-based systems to help small businesses, CEO Devon Bleibtrey explained.

“But when we go into the small business and start talking about generative AI and agent-based systems, (it) sort of goes over their head,” he said. “So we took those initial concepts and the underlying technology and said, ‘How do we actually bring this to market and how do we get in front of those small businesses to help them utilize it and improve their bottom line?'”

The final product is a billboard system and app using AI. Flockx on Wednesday celebrated the relaunching of its app in honor of ArtPrize. Users who download the app can see a map of what ArtPrize activities are happening around them.

Flockx helps small businesses and local artists by allowing them to upload their activities to the platform. Bleibtrey said its partnership with ArtPrize was “fantastic” from the start because there are already so many activities going on.

“We are excited to partner with Flockx,” ArtPrize Executive Director Catlin Whitington said in a release. “Our team has been actively working on our technology assets and to improve wayfinding for ArtPrize participants in our urban core. Grand Rapids really comes alive during ArtPrize, and we are excited to showcase all that the city has to offer during this time.”

Along with the app, Flockx also offers a cheap way for small businesses to advertise on billboards.

Using the business’ events calendar, Flockx automatically generates a billboard with text saying what the activity is, where to exit, what time it is and some graphics. Billboards can also be a grouping of activities from multiple small businesses, like live music gigs taking place in downtown that night, or a “brand awareness” billboard that has both Flockx and the business’ information.

The billboards are then sent out to the company’s ecosystem, which has about 50 billboards throughout Grand Rapids.

“We go and identify where is the small business at, what is the activity they’re doing, what communities are they trying to get connected into?” Bleibtrey explained. “So if I have a live music activity for example, where are the live music community members at? How do I get these billboards in front of them and get those foot in the door as opposed to just eyeballs. So we’re really trying to focus on getting that foot traffic in.”

He said it’s important for the billboards to showcase an event, as they should have a call to action.

“You need to have something that the users are going to come out to,” he said. “If you don’t have that, it sort of gets lost in the noise.”

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Bleibtrey said the billboard system helps small businesses because it’s much cheaper, and the lead time is shorter: a day or two compared to weeks.

He said he’s driven by the community, and wants to help businesses benefit from growth, instead of being pushed out:

“One thing that’s always been paramount to me is, How can we build the community? How can we foster community and how can we connect people up with the places that they’re at and get them out and experiencing all these great things the town has to offer?”