LiveLocl is a guidebook, messaging and content app which helps hotels to give guests a memorable experience by sharing the best that a destination can offer.
Before the Q&A with founder Craig Suyeishi, here's a 60 second elevator pitch video.
1. What problem does your business solve?
Check into a hotel room and you will find a binder filled with hotel information, restaurants, and local attractions. While packed with useful information, they’re bulky, not portable and not easy to edit.
Nowadays, travelers want something different. They want to text their question while lying by the pool, hanging out in tthe bar, or warming down at the gym. They’re on a business trip or on holiday, the last thing they want to do is waste time waiting for someone to answer their question.
With LiveLocl, hotels create their guidebook in minutes and can edit content in seconds. Guests can access this information anytime, anywhere. If guests cannot find the information they need, they can message the hotel directly in the app. If guests are looking for broader information, they can message the Locl team and they will do their best to answer their question.
LiveLocl also provides both short and long form local content. Short form content consists of a distilled list of a handful of recommendations that the Locl team deems as “must trys.” Couple that with their long form content that not only lists recommended places, but provides more information on why a place was selected.
2. Names of founders, their management roles, and number of full-time paid staff?
- Craig Suyeishi - founder and everything else outside of engineering
- Chang Lee - VP product development
- Anto Dickson - engineer
Craig Suyeishi is the only full time staff. Chang is providing an extended advisory role for now, but will come on board when we close an institutional round of funding.
Anto is a contract engineer out of India. He may join full time when funds are raised but at a minimum, he will continue as a consulting engineer.
3. Funding arrangements?
4. Revenue model?
Currently we are in customer acquisition mode, so the product is free to use. When we do flip on the revenue switch, we will generate revenue from several sources:
Why do you think the pain point you’re solving is painful enough that customers are willing to pay for your solution?
- Saas revenue - a monthly fee to use for hotels and property managers with more than two locations
- Properties can pay for additional features and services
- Advertising, but more along the lines of Instagram advertising where they don’t necessarily appear as ads. Ads will be limited and select
- Properties can opt to be a “City” account, so when people visit a city and not staying at a property using Live Locl, they can be the default account for the city which will provide them with branding and the ability to advertise to potential future guests
- Influencer marketing
At this point, hosts and guests will not pay to use. But in the future, there will be a pay model for hosts. And why would they pay? The features and functionality of the product will surpass other options out there. I don’t like when companies do this, but, our roadmap is our secret sauce.
But what I can say is that the messaging feature will continue to be improved, guests check-in and check-out will integrate with their systems, and advanced analytics will be a part of the paid version.
And while guests will not pay to use, there is a possible strategy to lead us down this road. One of the features is providing guests access to private events.
6. External validation?
Hotel Adagio, a Marriott property in San Fransisco, is one of our partners and we are close to getting additional hotels online in the next couple of months.
We are not going the accelerator route since I have raised equity and debt financing for several startups.
We are continuing to build our partnerships throughout our supported cities, and that includes local vendors, tastemakers, and content contributors.
I don’t believe in getting advisors just to have a nice name for a slide deck. With that said, One official advisor is Chris Holbrook, GM of a San Mateo Marriott with 327 rooms and 148 suites. Chris has been GM of several hotels and he is part of Evolution Hospitality.
I have two VC’s as unofficial advisors. Both are partners at their respective VC firms in Silicon Valley.
Most travellers, apart from those on an all-inclusive fly and flop, are interested in ideas about what to do when they get to their destination. A dead tree guidebook, a commission-only rep chasing tourists down the street with discount vouchers, or a content-based messaging app all serve the same purpose.
Today, the emphasis is on tech to deliver this information, and the content is increasingly about the off-the-beaten track, allowing tourists or visitors to experience a city from the perspective of a local.
Leaving aside questions about whether what locals want is the same as what a tourist wants, this aspect of travel is growing all the time. The market is large enough for more than one player to crack this content provision model and create a viable business from it.
Whether or not Live Locl will be do so remains to be seen. The interface is slick, the idea of having a team of local experts on hand is an interesting twist, the idea of creating private events for guests might resonate with people who like to feel part of something and having a variety of potential revenue streams make sense as the business evolves.
But the default questions about scalability, customer acquisition costs and competition still apply and will never go away.