TLabs Showcase - CityCiaoNewsBy Kevin May | March 15, 2011Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based local deals and tips service CityCiao.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?Ryan Croft – founder of Croft Global Travel a Washington DC-based adventure travel operator and custom trip planning service. Plus a DC-based team of talented software developers, graphic designers and finance professionals.What financial support did you have to launch the business?Seed money provided by founders and local investors + sweat equity.What problem are you trying to solve?Simplify the process for Americans to experience other cultures by exploring the global influences found just around the corner. Washington, DC is an ideal starting point with the melting pot of cultures found here.The business model is scalable to expand into other cities and countries.Describe the business, core products and services?We wanted to offer that same cultural exchange offered by Croft Global Travel for people on a more local level. The DC metro area is teeming with a wide array of languages, cultures, cuisines and influences.We can offer that same feeling from traveling abroad through experiences that are globally influences, yet locally consumed.Who are your key customers and users at launch?Basically anyone in Northern Virginia or DC who enjoys any type of international food, bars or experiences.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?Not formally, but we received very positive feedback from trusted outsiders to validate we were on the right track.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?Commission on each deal sold. We have been exploring alternative revenue streams and strategic partnerships.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Strengths: Interactive U/I, unique niche market, Croft Global Travel brand. Weaknesses: Bootstrapping start-up, email database size. Opportunities: Cracking the red hot local deals market, VC funding, strategic partnerships. Threats: VC-backed competitors with deep pockets.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?Plenty of people said: "That daily deals market is already too saturated." We don’t consider ourselves another daily deals site.We offer an organized platform to experience the unique cultures of the world without leaving your city.What is your success metric 12 months from now?People are competing against one another to fill their CityCiao passports in multiple cities around the country. NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.