GAFFL stands for Get a Friend for Life. The platform is
intended to help solo travelers find others planning similar itineraries to travel
together and share costs.
Users create a profile and then can create a trip and invite
others to join or can join an existing trip. The trip creator decides who joins, and only members see the trip details. GAFFL founder Akib Amin shares details
on the platform, which launched in 2017.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your
GAFFL connects travelers with similar itineraries to share costs and
For example, if you are traveling to Iceland next month, you
can find other travelers who are going there at the same time as you, connect,
split costs and explore together. Our users love to use it for road trips,
adventure travel and exploring cities.
As a business, we are helping people to:
- Connect with like-minded travelers
- Split costs and
- Travel more sustainably by taking sharing economy one step deeper
On the technology aspect, we:
- Have a web app
- Developed a peer-to-peer cost-split
- Built a four-step verification process
What inspired you to create this company?
In college, I could not travel as much as I wanted to. I was always broke. In
my post-graduation trip, I got lost as I was hiking solo in the mountains of
Colorado. That event ultimately pushed me to start GAFFL.
I approached one of my childhood friends, Shakil Mahmood, as I
needed a technical founder. He simply loved the idea and wanted to be a part of
it right away. Then we got my younger sibling Abrar Amin and one of our best friends, Rayhan Mithu, onboard. Last year, we got two more team members.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,
Threats) analysis of the company.
- Strengths: Our organic growth is our biggest strength. We
did not spend any money on marketing until now. We now know that GAFFL has
become a go-to product for a lot of travelers who need this every time they are
As a team, we are very resilient. We bootstrapped the
company from scratch to post-revenue. None of the founders took any salary for
19 months. But we never stopped working on GAFFL.
- Weaknesses: As all of us are first-time founders, every step
we take is new to us. Going forward, we will be doing a lot of things like
building scalable growth models, strategic partnerships, etc. that we have never
- Opportunities: Let’s say you have booked a rental car and
Airbnbs to travel around Colorado for a week. By using GAFFL, if you can find
one traveler who has the same itinerary and is willing to split the rental car and
accommodation, it will save you 50% cost. Think about the millions of travelers
- Threats: Consumer companies like Facebook and Airbnb are
always a threat. We are solving an old problem efficiently. There will always
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate
from both the customer and the industry perspective?
Traveling alone is boring, expensive and unsafe. We are
connecting travelers who are going to the same destinations at the same time
before the trip so that they can plan and then travel together.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of
Word of mouth will be, as always, our primary method to get
more customers. We will test and measure different growth mechanisms to find
sustainable channels to scale.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a
genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
When we first launched the product, we saw some good traffic,
but the engagement rate was poor. So, we went back to our users who signed up
and talked to them about what we could do to make the product better. We
redesigned the whole thing and launched GAFFL 2.0. We kept iterating the
product using the feedback loop. In 2018, every four months, we saw a 200%
increase in engagement.
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There are 300 million solo travelers and adventurers, and
this market is growing at a rate of 8% every year.
How and when will you make money?
Users pay $6.99 to create unlimited connections for 30 days.
There are also value packages: $20 for 6 months and $30 for a year.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the
founding team, and why do you have what it takes to succeed with this business?
We are all engineers by training. Before starting GAFFL, I
was working in the management for the agri-tech industry. Shakil was working
for a leading startup as the head of operations in Bangladesh. Abrar and Mithu
were fresh out of college.
We brought GAFFL from zero to one. Our team work,
resilience, passion and creativity will help us reach our mission.
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business
We had no real connection in the travel tech industry, so
raising the first investments was really difficult.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making
an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
Yes! Travel startups face a tougher time with retention, and
this is a big issue. People do not travel all the time. That’s why our primary
goal was to build something that our users would use every time they are traveling.
We know that they will not use the product every day or even every month,
unless they are traveling.
When our users are traveling, they are using it
almost every day for that week or few weeks straight, which is great. Happy
users are coming back on their following trips and using it multiple times in a
year. If we can make it a go-to product for a lot more users, we believe luck
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