Map of the Week: Kekanto

[Editors Note: Last month we launched to showcase the unique features of the Google Maps API. As part of this project, we’ve been featuring stories from our global community of developers who are using the Google Maps API to start businesses, help improve their communities or save the environment.]

This week we stay in São Paulo, to meet with one of the co-founders of Kekanto. Kekanto is a local search guide created specifically for users in Latin America who want to explore cities, share opinions and meet new people. What’s really exciting about Kekanto is to see a startup that aims to conquer the Spanish and Portuguese speaking markets first, which is made possible due in part to the coverage and language capabilities in Google Maps. We met up with Allan just as the rapidly growing site was moving into a new (a larger office) in São Paulo.

Kekanto was started when the founders realized that US-based local search guides were not really gaining traction with users when exported to Latin America. To make sure that users connected with a product made for them, Kekanto puts an emphasis on hiring managers on the ground that are native residents of their target cities across Latin America. Sharing a successful formula used by other local guides, the site takes a Google Map centric approach to drive activity on the site. The site also uses the Google Places API to provide local search results.

As a whole the design of the Kekanto site is easy to use and it does a great job of integrating the maps where the need to be, without letting them get in the way. We really like are the ability to view public transit layers directly on the map and the ability to calculate directions on the site as well. Another design feature we like is the use of business photos in the custom marker icons. This is really nice way to identify a business and tie the map back to the listings next to the map.

In the video below, Kekanto co-founder Alan Kajimoto gives us a live demonstration of the site.

Many thanks to the Kekanto team for inviting us into their office and sharing their site with us. To learn more about Kekanto and the things that you can do with the Google Maps API, visit We end our journey around the world here in São Paulo and we thank all of the great developers who were gracious enough to share with us their story. Next week we’ll recap the journey as well the launch of, so stay tuned for our final series installment!