Adioso is an Australia-based travel search site, which first featured on Tnooz in September 2010 [TLabs Showcase - Adioso].
So what happened in the intervening 12 months?
Are you making money yet?
Not really. A token amount from accommodation referrals to Booking.com, but we haven't got the product right enough to make monetisation a focus.
What has been the biggest problem - building the product/service or marketing it to consumers/travel industry?
Building the product, and upstream of that, understanding where our capabilities fit with the most important consumer & supplier problems.
Biggest assumption in the business plan that was wrong?
That dynamic interlining of low-cost carrier flights (ie, the creation of long-haul itineraries by connecting flights from disparate carriers) was an important problem to solve and a good solution to the cost/difficulty in obtaining quality inventory.
Is your current customer base as predicted?
We didn't make any specific projections, except that we expected steady growth, which we haven't seen.
What's surprised us most is that it's neither grown nor declined since stabilising after the launch spike, it's been remarkably consistent.
Did you achieve your 12 month goals? If not, why not?
On reading the question I presumed we hadn't, until I checked our Showcase post to see what they actually were: "Brand awareness and sentiment among passionate travellers" and "Desire among talented, travel-obsessed engineers and designers to want to join the team".
We actually have both of those, particularly the latter.
Our greatest achievement has been our recent success in assembling an team of awesomely talented travel-lovers from all over the world, and we're frequently approached by travel-enthusiasts with all kinds of skills, who get what we're trying to do and want to jump aboard.
Has the problem you were trying to solve changed?
Yep. We've realised the folly of trying to re-invent the flight-search/routing wheel.
We'll still be doing some internal engineering to transform inventory into the right format for our product, but we're leaving it to the experts to do the heavy lifting in that space.
The aspect of our product that most excited people was always the ability to find destinations possibilities via open-ended search for great flight deals.
We're now focusing much more heavily on this concept, and adding the ability to search by other dimensions – anything that excites people and inspires them to plan and book trips.
Which startup that has launched in the past 12 months did you think "Ah, wish we had done that!"?
I hope it doesn't seem arrogant to say that we haven't seen anyone who seems to have nailed it, and that most of what we've seen confirms our own experience that this is just a really tough business in which product/market fit is much harder than it looks.
That said, Gogobot, Gtrot and Trippy all seem to be doing really cool things in the social space, and we're hotly anticipating the public launch of Hopper, as they seem to be doing a lot of what we had in mind, though with much more experience and funding.
If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?
You're spending too much time on back-end engineering rather than making things ordinary humans actually want. And marketing won't save you.
NB: Tnooz launched TLab Showcase in March 2010, a dedicated channel to give startups in the travel, tourism and hospitality sector an opportunity to explain their vision, company background and strategy to a wider audience.
As well as publishing an elevator pitch-type questionnaire for each business, Tnooz committed to following up with each startup after 12 months or so to see how well (or not) each performed.
NB2: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.