TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring UK-based Cool Places, a new service aimed at providing destination guides, deals and reviews to prospective UK visitors.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
We are a UK-focused travel website, devoted to celebrating and promoting the UK as a travel destination.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
- Jonathan Knight, director – founder Punk Publishing and Cool Camping.
- Martin Dunford, managing director – co-founder Rough Guides, investor and consultant for Tripbod.
- Mark Ellingham, investor and consultant– co-founder Rough Guides, director of Sort Of Books, Wanderlust, Songlines and Punk Publishing.
- Kenny Grant , chief geek – owner of Mechanism Design.
- John Brown, investor – formerly of John Brown Publishing.
We are self-funded, with investment from Punk/Cool Camping and from the owner-investors in the business, Martin Dunford, Mark Ellingham, Jonathan Knight, Kenny Grant and John Brown.
What problem are you trying to solve?
The problem is: where the heck do I go to plan my UK break? There is nowhere online that celebrates the UK as a contemporary travel destination.
We aim to select and objectively review the best local hotels, restaurants, shops and other local businesses, and to make it easier for travellers to find them. No other online business does this at present.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Unique, trusted content on the best places to eat, drink, sleep, shop and more all around the UK.
A source of special offers for the very best places, and a platform for consumers to add, share and comment on not only their local favourites but their favourite UK holiday experiences too.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Our users are domestic UK travellers planning a weekend away or a short break. Our paying customers will eventually be the local businesses themselves.
Our immediate focus is on creating a genuinely useful website that users and potential customers will love.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
To some extent, with a certain amount of user testing and of course by having published the IPhone apps a year ago.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
By focusing from the outset on original, useful, high-quality content, our strategy is to quickly build traffic, which in turn will drive opportunities for revenues. Revenues will come from four main streams:
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
- listings upgrades, where owners pay to be featured or to promote offers.
- affiliate revenues, where we drive traffic to our affiliates to make a booking or transaction.
- sales of our associated app-guides, currently available from the app store from £1.19 to £2.49.
- advertising and sponsorship, although we don’t want to disrupt the user experience with lots of ads, we will be looking at opportunities for sponsorship where it will benefit the users and what they’re looking for.
- Unique, trusted content; an experienced team, with a track record and credibility; more of a focus on UK holidays and breaks.
- Online content available for free.
- A thirst for travel information about the UK, as domestic tourism continues to build.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Others entering the market; tourist boards getting their act together; online competitors in other, more specialist sectors, eg hotels, pubs or restaurants.
No one, really.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
To have established a reputation as the go-to website for UK travel and to be on our way to breaking even.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.