TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring Germany-based travel location Q&A travel service Askalo.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Askalo is a location-based Q&A online community where people ask city-related questions and received personalized answers from people with local knowledge.
Askalo provides a fun platform for users with similar interests to discover and share new experiences in their city.
The service was launched in July 2010 in 150 German-speaking cities in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. One month later, Askalo went live in 36 other countries and four more languages.
Askalo was created by the German startup company Yalwa. Yalwa develops and operates Internet platforms that meet local needs. Yalwa believes that even though the world is more connected through the Internet, most of life is still local, and location-based web applications should be free, trusted and easy to use.
Besides Askalo, Yalwa also has two other local Internet platforms: Locanto, a free classifieds site, and a business directory called Yalwa.
Founder and CEO of the Yalwa company is Klaus Gapp. Prior to Yalwa, Gapp successfully founded and operated the German classifieds site Opusforum, which was bought by eBay in 2005 and merged with the eBay classifieds group.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
What problem are you trying to solve?
Location-based questions that require local experience or knowledge to provide a meaningful opinionated answer cannot be resolved simply by using a search engine.
And even if people could find their answers through a search engine, they would often have to visit several different pages to receive answers to all of their questions. askalo, the new online Q&A community offers a platform for all city-related questions and answers.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Askalo users can ask any city-related question by posting their question into a green Ask box located at the top of every page. Users can browse similar questions which already have answers, or post a new question to be answered by other users.
Users can find and answer questions about their city by entering any topic into the orange 'answer' box at the top of the website, or by choosing from a list of categories such as Going Out, Shopping, and Services. Users can also find unanswered questions simply by browsing the "unanswered questions" link featured on their city's homepage.
Askalo seeks to add a sense of fun and trust to asking and answering city-related questions by rewarding quality information with points, levels, and awards. Users are rewarded for asking and answering questions, voting for answers, and inviting new users.
Points show who is providing helpful tips about their city, levels allow users to do more on the website, and awards let users earn titles such as "San Francisco Rockstar" to highlight how they have helped their askalo community.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
The main targets at launch were people with local knowledge who were eager to help others get to know their city better.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We only make changes to the product based off of customer feedback.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Revenue model: onsite advertising. First focus is to create abundance.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
The local Q&A market is fairly new, so there is not very much competition. However, the location-based apps market is growing rapidly, so we expect more major competitors to enter or expand their location-based Q&A offerings, such as Yelp, Qype, Yahoo Answers, Facebook Questions etc.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
No one said this would not be successful
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
We want to achieve an appropriate size, but we do not communicate numbers.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.