TLabs Reprise - MyTripGuru 12 months onNewsBy Kevin May | August 5, 2011Share This article was originally published on MyTripGuru is a Germany-based user generated content guidebook platform, which first featured on Tnooz in April 2010 [TLabs Showcase - MyTripGuru].So what happened in the intervening 12 months?Are you making money yet?Not enough to be able to run MyTripGuru full time.We had some success in terms of conversion rate with the integration of a white label hotel booking engine but traffic to the site has not scaled to produce a sustainable income.What has been the biggest problem - building the product/service or marketing it to consumers/travel industry?The biggest difficulty was definitely in marketing the site to our target market. Without any significant marketing budget we tried to get traffic by trying to appeal to as wide a group as possible.As a result, we diluted our core message and failed to attract our true target market (adventure-loving travellers, off-the-beaten path).As a user-generated site, the classic chicken and egg problem was also very acute. I don’t think the chicken and egg problem (content and traffic) can be solved through technology. It is a marketing problem to solve.Biggest assumption in the business plan that was wrong?Obviously our growth projections were off the mark. But looking back, the business plan itself still looks quite solid in terms of strategy and positioning.We assumed huge growth in mobile usage and internet connectivity. But we decided to focus on web first and mobile second. In hindsight, we should not have assumed that a web presence was a prerequisite for a mobile presence.Is your current customer base as predicted?Geographically yes. We aimed to reach out to an international audience. In terms of traveller profile, our goal was to target adventure and off-the-beaten-path travellers. In reality, a much broader range of travellers use the site.Did you achieve your 12 month goals? If not, why not?No. As mentioned above, the business plan was poorly executed. In order to grow the site quickly, we abandoned our core positioning and tried to be everything for everyone – a sure recipe for failure given the competition in this space.This made it difficult to create a cohesive brand message and to create a richer sense of community among our users.Has the problem you were trying to solve changed?Fundamentally, no. I still find it difficult to get one-stop travel advice from other travellers who I trust and respect.But the problem has shifted from not enough travel information to too much information. The usability and stickiness of many services are so good that there are no real barriers to creating an account and adding content.The problem in the future (what we tried to address via our Trip Guru system), is to get relevant advice from travellers with similar interests, minus the noise.Which startup that has launched in the past 12 months did you think "Ah, wish we had done that!"?There are several startups in the mobile space that are very interesting. From a technology perspective,I really like the iPhone apps for Runtastic and Everytrail. I like their ease of use and social interaction. Runtastic has done a great job at making it easy to add activities and share them with friends.Everytrail is building a user-generated database of outdoor activities that looks promising, even though noise (ie. too many uploaded dog walks) is already a deterrent to the service.I also admire Gogobot. Their user interface, social integration and Q&A service are second to none in this space.If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?I would tell myself to stick to my vision and to focus on the mobile space. The most innovation is happening in this space and the travel industry has been slow to react.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.