In the rush to create trip planning and content sites a few years ago, OffBeatGuides caught the attention because of its backer - a certain Dave Sifry, founder of Technorati.
Over two years since the site launched in private beta (June 2008 with a full launch later the same year) and rumours were circulating that OffBeatGuides might be floundering somewhat, not having said much publicly for a while and a lack of content on the company blog (last post, February 2010).
Some wondered whether Sifry's magic with Technorati (a site which has also dipped in profile in recent years) might not have worked in the arguably trickier world of travel publishing.
The OffBeatGuides model was simple: create personalised travel guides using content from around the web for a destination and time period unique to the user. The guides were selling at $10 for a PDF or $25 for a PDF and printed version.
What could go wrong?
Well, even more reams of free travel content on the web was potentially a growing problem, and similar services from other providers was also a factor.
Interestingly, Sifry emerged from the darkness to appear at the WebinTravel conference in Singapore last week, sitting alongside his investor, Abrar Ahmad, a partner at Travel Capitalist Ventures.
The session was focused more on why he launched the business (frustrated with existing guidebooks, etc) and going about getting investment.
But, later, Sifry disclosed a few details about the company and its progress.
OffBeatGuides is actually a profitable business and "doing very well", he says. Last year, "similar for everyone", was tough but the company is performing to expectations.
Sifry will not disclose exactly how many guides the site is selling regularly, but says it is more than 10,000 every month - doing the sums giving the company at least $90,000 revenue a month on a PDF-only stream.
So what has assisted the site to get some traction, given that the marketplace is crowded with other content providers?
Put simply: partnerships.
OffBeatGuides signed two deals to throw its product in front of travellers - one with Expedia and another with Starwood Hotels.
Sifry says having the ability to be in front of consumers during the booking path on Expedia.com, for example, has "helped tremendously".
As an aside, knowing that a deal with a major OTA to feature on its ancillary channel can help a young startup business will no doubt please UK-based TripBod after it recently signed a partnership with Expedia UK to feature on its newsletter.
Nevertheless, when asked whether it is easier to make a profit selling travel guides or building a blog directory such as Technorati, Sifry says quickly and emphatically: "Travel guides."
Food for thought...