Go Overseas wants to become the TripAdvisor for travellers studying on-the-roadNewsBy Kevin May | September 16, 2011Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based Go Overseas, a user review service for education programmes around the world.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?Go Overseas is the Yelp for programs abroad. We have ratings and reviews for every study abroad, volunteer abroad, teach abroad, and intern abroad program in the world, along with articles, community resources and more.We’re focused on helping people make better decisions when choosing between overseas programs.Our goal and mission is to encourage more people to go abroad, and to help them find the program that is the best fit for them. Study and volunteer programs, in particular, can last for months. However, there is generally a lack of objective information for people to use in deciding between programs. Go Overseas solves this problem.Management team: Mitch Gordon: CEO/Founder, CPA, UC Berkeley MBA (2012)Andrew Dunkle: CTO, University of ColoradoTucker Hutchinson: Director of Marketing, Hamilton CollegeNadia Mubashar: Website Director, BS UC BerkeleyAndrea Moran: Marketing Associate, BA San Francisco StateWhat financial support did you have to launch the business?Angel investors, including the founder, provided the initial funding for Go Overseas. We’ve had serious offers for venture capital, and may consider this for the future.For the moment, we’re trying to build the business without taking a serious venture round. We are already generating significant revenues, so for the moment this appears to be an achievable goal.What problem are you trying to solve?What’s the best Chinese food in San Francisco? Where can I find the best pizza in Boston? Yelp solved this problem by helping their users make more informed decisions.The last few years have seen a number of companies become very successful by building robust rating/review sites in their field. These sites help their users make more educated and informed decisions when deciding between certain products.Our goal is to solve the same problem for programs abroad. There are thousands of study, volunteer, teach and intern abroad programs throughout the world. Making a decision between all these choices can be overwhelming for people. Go Overseas helps our users make more informed decisions when deciding between different programs.Describe the business, core products and services?Go Overseas is a listings and community site for every program in the world. From a user perspective, our core competency is helping users choose between program providers. From a company perspective, our role is lead generation.We need to provide quality leads to our partner clients. The early feedback shows a clear proof of concept: All current paying clients have been thrilled with the leads we’ve sent them and want to increase their exposure on Go Overseas through additional advertising.Who are your key customers and users at launch?Key Customers: large study, volunteer, intern and teach abroad program providers from around the world. Governments promoting study in their country are also customers. All our key customers are aware of us and the vast majority of them have started to actively manage their listings on our site.Key Users: Anyone and everyone in the world interested in programs abroad. Our goal and mission is to reach every one of these people and help them make a more informed and educated choice.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?Absolutely. We conducted extensive research via focus groups and A/B testing. We needed to be sure users wanted a resource like Go Overseas.We also needed to know if companies would pay for advertising/lead generation on our site. We conducted exhaustive research before our launch in July 2010. All our research led us to two clear conclusions: Go Overseas is a resource people need and our clients are absolutely willing to pay us for valuable leads.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?Our business model is focused on becoming the global hub for programs abroad. We want our users to think of “Go Overseas” when they think about researching programs abroad. With a unique rating & review system, our competitive advantage is information and community.Our revenue model is based primarily on premium advertising and a CPC model. We list programs by countries and program providers can purchase premium listings on these pages. We have also experimented with a CPC model, which has worked well, and are currently working with some clients on a lead generation model.Go Overseas is already nearing profitability. Our revenues are increasing significantly each month, and we expect to reach profitability early in 2012.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Strengths: Great core team, significant momentum, revenue generation, great marketing and SEO team. Weaknesses: We could use more staff members. Startups can always use more hands on deck! As a new company we have some catching up to do with SEO. Opportunities: In an increasingly globalized world, this is a growing field. As the global hub for programs abroad, there are a number of other areas we can expand into. Threats: We have competitors. Some of them are more well established than others and there is always also the potential for additional players to enter the market.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?Many people. We were entering a competitive field and faced an uphill battle. In many ways, entrepreneurship is always an irrational choice.You have to believe in your idea, be flexible and creative and keep pushing. We believed strongly in our idea and it’s exciting to see all the traction we’ve gained of late.What is your success metric 12 months from now?We would define our success metrics from results from two categories: Revenues: We’re already generating significant revenues, but it’s important that we continue to grow revenues in order to fund our expansion. We have very specific revenue targets for the next year.Website Traffic!: We need to significantly increase our website traffic. We’ve increased exponentially in the last year, and this exponential growth needs to continue into the coming months and beyond. NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.