TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring France-based Backpackmojo, a social platform to create, share and print professional-looking personal travel guides.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
We are a team of three backpackers who met during a trip and decided to create a sharing service that would get our fellow backpackers out of the overcrowded "Lonely Planet Path"! Here’s who we are exactly :
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
- Antoine Heber-Suffrin, co-founder and CEO - discovered backpacking at age 18 during a 1 month Inter-Rail trip around Europe. He travelled in 21 countries to date and built strong relationships with backpackers he met on the road. He has a Masters’ degree in management and has worked on community websites in the entertainment industry.
- Kevin Creusy, co-founder and COO, is the most recent backpacker of the team. Kevin fell in love with backpacking three years ago, and has since backpacked 5 countries. He has a Masters degree in finance and is also front-end developer at Backpackmojo.
- Pierre Margueritte, co-founder and CTO, is a passionate traveller and photographer who enjoys revealing breathtaking sceneries using his cameras. He holds a Masters’degree in computer science and is the technical mind behind Backpackmojo.
The company has been entirely funded through founder’s personal funds and family and fiends. We will soon begin a new round of financing to get our service better and available to more users.
What problem are you trying to solve?
The travel process, for backpackers and other tourists alike, can be divided into three main steps:
- the pre-travel inspiration process (where can I go? what can I do for my time and budget?)
- the travel itself (things I did, venues I attended, adventures I lived, people I met)
- the post-travel sharing process (friends want to see pictures and know what I’ve done, some want advice for an upcoming similar trip).
Two of these steps take place online: inspiration and sharing. They are annoying and time consuming because the current offer is not perfect: inspiration online, even with popular social networks such as TripAdvisor, is only efficient if you actually KNOW what you want to do (reviews of specific things like Hotels), but are not efficient if you want inspiration for an itinerary for instance.
For example, "I want to go to Peru for 30 days", is the only information you should give a website to get inspiration on a 30 days trip to Peru.
The sharing process is also often limited to a photo album on Facebook, a letter to Lonely Planet to tell them what is out of date, and lots of emails from friends, who want to do a similar trip, in your inbox.
Blogs aren’t the solution because they’re too long, not well organized, and hard to find (someone on the web probably has a blog of your dream trip, but you’ll spend hours searching for it). There is a gold mine of expert travel experience that is lost because not properly addressed by the web.
Backpackmojo is an online platform that aims to solve these problems by being a pre-travel inspiration tool AND a post-travel sharing tool with a single innovative product: personal travel guides.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Backpackmojo is essentially a social platform where you can easily create, share and print professional-looking personal travel guides. The user simply enters his itinerary, and we generate the guide structure where each stop is a different chapter. The user can fill this structure with personal photos, reviews, tips and advices. Each guide can be downloaded as a PDF.
The guides are all available for free on the website and our search system by destination and trip length make them easy to find. The content of each guide is also aggregated in country/city/hotspot pages so that you can access all the information on a particular location on a single page.
Backpackmojo has partnerships with hostel booking platforms so that backpackers can spot popular hostel and book them directly on our site. You won’t find five-star hotels here, we’re dedicated to Budget travellers.
We also have a printo-o-demand service that gives people the opportunity to print their Guide in a professional-looking book and receive it at home. For our beta, each guide completed on Backpackmojo will be printed and sent to its author for free!
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
We are dedicated to the Backpacker community, a majority of which is aged 18-29 but being a backpacker is more a state of mind than an age question. This community is already huge, truly international and growing every year.
Youth travel is a phenomenon and around 170 million tourists each year are young travellers that are eager to share good tips with each other in order to avoid overcrowded tourist traps. We want to transfer this sharing dynamics online by disrupting a tool these travellers know well: the travel guide.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
As backpackers ourselves, a personal travel guide is something we’ve been dreaming of for years. Who doesn’t want to become a travel writer and see its name on a travel guide?
The backpackers we’ve asked were very interested by the two aspects of a personal travel guide: a nice Souvenir of your trip that you can keep on your bookshelf and the possibility to browse the different itineraries and tips of the community on the website. The idea seems to be appealing to our targeted users.
A week only after the launch we have amazing feedback from our new users. We are really proud of that.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
The business model is straightforward: we generate revenue from travel-related advertising, affiliation (booking hostels and flights from our partners) and print-on-demand (you can order the book version of the guide you create, sell it to friends and earn a commission on each sale).
We would also like to create a true collaborative guide book on each country, featuring itineraries, tips and reviews from popular members in the community: a guide book more relevant to Backpackers and always up to date.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- A unique product on the web, the first Social Network dedicated to Backpackers where you can create and print a professional-looking travel guide for your trips and feel like a professional travel writer.
- Completing a quality Guide is a long process for which it is difficult to maintain people fully committed.
- The lack of qualified information for millions of Backpackers outside of Professional Guide books and aging forums. Most of the unique travel experiences are lost even if travellers would benefit from the tips on a whole trip.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- The power of huge travel blog platforms will make it harder for us to educate people to this new way of sharing.
Every non-backpacker traveller who questions why people would possibly want to spend a few hours completing a nice travel guide for others.
While we know that backpackers share easily, we listened to these critics and turned our guides into personal souvenir album for you and your close friends that benefits the entire backpacking community.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
The success metric 12 months from now would be seeing a complete stranger holding a Backpackmojo Guide book in a foreign country!
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.