TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based Near2there, a mobile service which allows travellers to discover and be alerted to attractions on a trip.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Near2there was formed in February 2010 by Peter Olfe and Bob Anderson, two entrepreneurs with extensive expertise in the mobile and location-based services industries. Bob and Peter are also both passionate world travellers.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
- Peter, the CEO, has over 15 years experience in the mobile industry and has been an entrepreneur in location-based services for the past 6 years. He earned his BA from Middlebury College and his MBA from Columbia University.
- Bob, the CTO, has over 8 years experience in location-based services and was a pioneer in vehicle tracking systems. Bob earned his BS from Princeton University and his MS from Stanford University.
Near2there has been self-funded by the co-founders.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Near2there answers a fundamental need most people have: We hear and read about places all the time, but when we go out, we often forget them. Near2there makes sure that you never miss a place again.
Whether you want to remember a restaurant, a tourist site, or a shop, Near2there gives you easy ways to capture these locations on the web or on the go, gives you maps and directions, and, should you forget, alerts you when you are near to a location.
Describe the business, core products and services?
The Near2there service includes:
- create placemarks for locations nearby or elsewhere
- automatically sync placemarks with web account
- view placemarks on map and get directions
- share placemarks via Twitter and Facebook
- receive audible and visual alerts when near to a placemarked location
- create and manage placemarks
- share placemarks via Twitter and Facebook
- create placemarks for any address on any website
- automatically capture website URL for reference back to original content
- install easily on most browsers
Partner button API
- one-click button placed next to location-relevant content on partner sites
- capture website URL for reference back to original page, bringing partner content to users’ eyes when it is most relevant – when they are going out
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Smart phone users who like to try new places whether locally or abroad, and who get ideas from various sources.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We did a quiet launch on both the Android and iPhone platforms. Without any promotion, we had several thousand people download and try our service.
We received valuable feedback from these users, and this led to the development of our bookmarklet and version 2.0 of our iPhone app. We will launch a version 2.0 of our Android app later this Spring.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Location-based advertising
- Location Intelligence - data and analysis linking online behavior with real-world activity for ad networks and media buyers
- White label solutions for major travel publishers
- team: experienced and skilled in both mobile and location-based services
- technology: proprietary solutions for background proximity monitoring and battery conservation
- product: focused, unique user experience
- Must teach consumers new habits.
- Bridge the gap between online discovery and the real world around us.
- Enhance the value of online travel content by making it more timely and relevant.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Competition from companies in the same or neighboring spaces
One venture capitalist told us that he could already do the same thing (as our service does) using Google maps.
Our response: yes, you can use Google Maps in this way, but it requires three to four times as many steps to both capture and retrieve placemarks. You might as well stick to notebooks.
There are many companies creating easy to use "to do" lists. We are creating the ultimate "to go" list.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Within 2012 we aim to have over one million active users and have partnerships with five to ten major travel publishers.
Here is a clip:
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.