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Mike Cote's Business Editor's Notebook: NH gets a home on 'The Great Highway'

By MIKE COTE
May 20. 2017 6:59PM
Ray Davies, best known for his work with the Kinks, name drops New Hampshire in "The Big Highway," a song from his new album, "Americana." 

Thursday's 93-degree steamer offered a big, sweaty taste of summer.

Soon travelers will hit the road for the mountains, the lakes and the beaches as Memorial Day kicks off the season. While the state's share of international business is increasing, car trips remain the biggest source of tourism bucks for the Granite State.

"I like to say that the big trifecta is a strong economy, great weather and low gas prices," state tourism director Victoria Cimino told Fred Kocher in a recent "New Hampshire's Business" segment on WMUR.

Many of those drivers will be cranking tunes in their cars, whether on the trip up from New York or down from Quebec. If they were heading to California or Colorado, they could easily punch up a theme song. Cue the Beach Boys and John Denver. Heck, if they were going anywhere else, they could probably find a tune that name drops their destination state or a city within it.

"I went to Phoenix, Arizona, all the way to Tacoma. Philadelphia, Atlanta, L.A." Steve Miller sings. But there's no New Hampshire in "Rockin' Me" or any other rock song that comes to mind. Little Feat's Lowell George was "Willin'" to drive his 18-wheeler from "Tuscon to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonapah." But I don't think he got anywhere near ManchVegas. It's even more obscure than Tucumcari, a tiny town in New Mexico.

Leave it to a Brit to put New Hampshire on the map.

Ray Davies, best known as the leader of the Kinks, gives the Granite State props in a song on "Americana," a new album loosely based on his memoir of the same name that was released a couple of years ago.

"Hoping I can find my dream in New Hampshire or New Orleans," Davies sings on "The Great Highway," a song that has our humble New England state rubbing shoulder with Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and a few other celebrated locales that don't have a chip on their shoulder about always being left out. "Find a place where I can stay. Once I'm there I'm never going away."

It probably will never be a hit - it's track 14 on a 15-song album and Davies hasn't had a top 10 song since the Kinks' "Come Dancing" in 1983 - but it's a great rocker with a memorable chorus and celebrates American culture in a way only a wayward invader can do.

I don't know how much time Davies has spent in New Hampshire, but he's been here at least once, performing with the Kinks at St. Anselm College in the mid '80s. The Kinks performed "You Really Got Me" at a bone-crunching volume that could probably be heard from New Hampshire to New Orleans, all along "The Great Highway."

Gotta go!

All travelers have suffered this. You're in a strange city and need to find a bathroom fast. What to do?

Soon there could be app for that. Alex Ilyadis of Manchester, who graduated a week ago from Emerson College, placed third in the Boston school's 12th annual Entrepreneurial Expo in April for his business venture and received $2,000 to develop it.

The marketing communication major is creating a mobile app that helps you find a public restroom in any major city. It's called Piddle.

Ilyadis could have used something like Piddle on Halloween weekend when he was working as a driver for Lyft, a ride-sharing service that competes with Uber. He had no idea where to find a public bathroom in Dorchester.

"I ended up crawling behind a bush and crossing my fingers and hoping no one would walk by. I'm not a big fan of that," Ilyadis said Thursday. "I decided to start working on an application to help find public restrooms."

Ilyadis, 22, had five minutes to pitch his business to a panel of Boston-area academic, entrepreneurial and business professionals, who scored him "on the merits of pitch clarity, innovation, value proposition, market/competitive analysis, go-to-market plan and business sustainability," the school says.

Piddle will rely on users to submit information on available bathrooms in a given metro area and rate them.

"It's all pretty much user-generated. We rely on users to post bathrooms as either public, private or patron-only. They can rate it no matter what and where it is," said Ilyadis, who grew up in Hollis and moved to Manchester when he was 17.

While he participated in graduation, Ilyadis is taking a couple of courses this summer to complete his degree. He expects he and business partner Lucien Jodoin will have a beta version of the app ready by the end of the summer that covers the Boston area. And Ilyadis has a job lined up.

"I will be working full-time at another tech startup just so I can continue gaining experience, and then I'm hopefully going to be off to run with Piddle once the development's done," he said.

Contact Business Editor Mike Cote at 206-7724 or mcote@unionleader.com.


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