TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based Lookze, a mobile application to give travelers information about the buildings and their surroundings as they walk around cities.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Lookze is a technology and content development start-up that produces a GPS-enabled sightseeing app that not only provides information on top tourist attractions but also interesting buildings and architectural gems.
Lookze was founded in 2011 by Larry Gurreri. Larry Gurreri has over 10 years of experience within digital. He’s an expert in standardizing and scaling operations. Larry has worked in a variety of fields including software development, digital publishing, media, SEM/SEO, and social listening in various capacities including programmer, business analyst, and project manager.
Most recently, Larry launched, managed, and scaled the organic search practice at Digitas to include 30 professionals.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
To date, Lookze has been financed entirely by founder Larry Gurrer. However, Lookze is seeking to raise $500,000 in 2012 and has begun pitching various angel investors including the New York Angels.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Every day hordes of tourist can been observed, within metropolitan cities, walking around, pointing at and snapping pictures of all the interesting buildings around them. However, most of them don’t know anything about the history of these buildings.
The problem is that because there is so much history behind all of these buildings, prior to smartphones you would have had to of lugged around giant books if you wanted to learn about these buildings.
And because none ever want to do that, portable content was never produced for this subject. Your big travel guides typically only provide information on the top attractions. Lookze aims to fill that void.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Lookze is a content development and technology company with a focus on the smartphone and tablet market. Information about major tourist attractions, interesting buildings and architectural gems is researched, revised and condensed in a comprehensive and concise format.
The subjects covered include information about building owners, construction sites, architects, architecture and tenants.
Content is delivered to users via a GPS-enabled app.
Lookze is highly differentiated from competitors due to its unique subject matter. Obtaining this information would require substantial research. Full version launches per market will have critical mass.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Lookze’s key customers include tourists, architecture enthusiasts and curious city dwellers. A unique platform for advertisers is also currently in development.
Once released, Lookze will target brands that are looking to connect with and promote an active lifestyle to their customers.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Yes. Family, friends, and colleagues have all weighed in on the concept.
Students from the School of Visual Arts have provided usability testing and Lookze is one of the model companies in the Fordham MBA program marketing competition, where teams of students compete to develop the best marketing plan.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Lookze will have three streams of revenue. Paid downloads, web site advertising and in-app advertising based primarily around the planned social gaming component that will enable brands to connect with and promote an active lifestyle to their customers.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- No other historical architecture app available
- Has proprietary content that other travel apps are missing
- Narrow interest – one time user if not local
- Possible issues with roaming charges
- Simple concrete implementation can be scalable in any city
- Partnership with local tourism entities can help expand marketing
- Content can be integrated into other apps or sites
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- 100s of competitive apps in the market
- Competitive apps have more functionality as well as topics and attractions covering more interests
- Competitors can add historical architecture elements at any time
The barriers to entry have been the most frequently cited objection to Lookze. However, few people have had strong opinions against the start-up concept.
The barriers to entry from both the technology and content development point of view appear lite. However, technology companies don’t want to develop content and traditional content development companies are slow to adapt to technology.
As a result, there is a growing void of mobile content. Google’s acquisition of Zagat in 2011 validates this point.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
At the end of 2012, we would consider Lookze to be a success if apps are downloaded at a rate of 100-200 per day in each market that we release an app version.
We also aim to release a unique advertiser platform that enables brands to connect with and promote an active lifestyle to their customers.
Other plans enhancements include user ratings, open commenting and recommended tours.
Here is a clip:
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.