TLabs Reprise - Historvius 12 months onNewsBy Kevin May | November 29, 2011Share This article was originally published on Historvius is a UK-based cultural travel and trip planning site, which first featured on Tnooz in November 2010 [TLabs Showcase - Historvius].So what happened in the intervening 12 months?Are you making money yet?No – though we didn’t intend to at this stage. Our strategy has always focused on building strong, robust traffic numbers before looking at any revenue generation models.However, we’re committed to keeping the site free-to-use and to ensuring the quality of the content and won’t compromise on these aspects.What has been the biggest problem - building the product/service or marketing it to consumers/travel industry?Probably the former – it’s been a case of focusing on intelligent development, i.e. only pursuing development areas that bring genuine benefit without breaking the bank.At every step we’ve been careful to analyse the potential impact of any new development, undertake a cost vs benefits analysis and then go for only those projects that make real sense. Sadly, this has meant that, on occasion, some of our more wacky ideas have had to take a back seat!Biggest assumption in the business plan that was wrong?Tough one to answer as we weren’t really locked in to a tight plan. However, I’d probably say the one thing that’s really surprised us has been the preference for planned itineraries over bespoke ones.Our system lets people build a free itinerary to print and take with them on their trips - but we noticed that people weren’t using it as much as we thought. Once we started creating some recommended itineraries for particular cities and regions, we found a much greater uptake and far more downloads.This may show that people are looking for recommendations over bespoke itineraries or it could just show we haven’t made it simple enough yet. Either way we’ll be doing more of the former and working on the latter over the next few months!Is your current customer base as predicted?Very much so, and perhaps a few additions we didn’t expect – we believed a combination of history lovers and general holidaymakers would use the site, the former heavily and the latter dipping in and out.For the most part that’s what we’ve seen. However, we’ve also seen a huge uptake among an education-based audience, with teachers and students alike using Historvius to explore history in the classroom. We’ve had some lovely feedback from educators and that’s been an unexpected bonus.Did you achieve your 12 month goals? If not, why not?Close but no cigar. We wanted to double the size of our database and are almost there. If we’d have written this in a month or two I’d probably have said yes – as it is we’re still pretty happy with progress on this front. In terms of audience and traffic, we’ve far exceeded expectations, which has been fantastic.Has the problem you were trying to solve changed?No, though I’d like to think we’ve helped to solve it. We wanted to help people discover both the well-known historic landmarks and the more obscure sites that are brilliant to visit.We firmly believe that our search functionality – letting people search by place, time, period of history or historic figure – has really helped our users find a much broader range of great sites than are often found in travel guides or standard top ten lists.And I’d like to think we’ve made the whole discovery process easier. What may have taken hours trawling online before takes two minutes on Historvius now. It’s fair to say we’re not there yet, there’s still more to cover and new challenges in how we serve up that data, but I think we’ve made a fair start.Which startup that has launched in the past 12 months did you think "Ah, wish we had done that!"?Two startups caught my eye – not totally dissimilar to each other – they are Wanderfly and Tripomatic. Both have great designs and a good user experience. In fact, we’ve even started to partner with Wanderfly in a small way as one of their new curators – hopefully it’s a partnership that will continue to grow.If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?Be careful of being overly-obsessive! Though we have a small editorial team managing the content I find I get personally attached to content projects and probably spend time on sites when I should be doing other things!But we get some really interesting stuff uploaded and, as a history nut, I spend ages exploring and researching them myself.For example, even though I’ve been to Carthage a couple of times, it seems I still missed loads of stuff and only realised it when we had some uploads through – I think I must have spent about two days solid turning them into a fully mapped-out guide, I barely came up for breath! In my mind though, it was totally worth it!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.