TLabs Showcase - GlobetrooperNewsBy Kevin May | April 30, 2010Share This article was originally published on TLabs focus on startups featuring Sydney, Australia-based Globetrooper.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?We are Globetrooper, a place for people to travel, explore and discover the globe together.The founders are Todd Sullivan and Lauren McLeod. We are prior software engineers, private equiteers, investment analysts, entrepreneurs and intrepid travelers.What financial support did you have to launch the business?Bootstrapped.What problem are you trying to solve?The problem we see is a gulf between the following: The possibilities of experiential travelThe typical outcomes of experiential travel ‘Experiential’ travel can be life changing in so many ways. But getting the most from adventures abroad isn’t easy. And it clearly isn’t as simple as booking a trip online with a packaged-tour provider.Our primary hypothesis is that the most rewarding trips are those enjoyed from the outset with like-minded people. Not from the day you board the plane, but from the day you decide to experience life abroad. And the best way to maximize the experience is to create, build and improve your trips with people whom have similar travel aspirations.But even more than that, we see immeasurable value in actually traveling with these like-minded people, even if they’re complete strangers from opposite corners of the globe. And that’s the premise behind the Globetrooper product, to ‘travel, explore and discover the globe together’.Describe the business, core products and services?Our primary product is our Trip engine, which is a social platform that facilitates the creation and building of trips between groups of inspired travelers (mostly complete strangers with the same travel bug).Anyone can create a trip or join an existing trip. And together, the group of prospective travelers can discuss itineraries, suggest improvements, arrange bookings and do anything else required to make the trip a reality.Each trip has its own homepage where discussions and amendments take place. Then, once the group agrees on an itinerary, they can leave their computers for the trip of a lifetime.It's important to note that we're not selling trips or acting as travel agents; we're providing the platform for trip collaboration between like-minded travelers.Who are your key customers and users at launch?Friends, family, colleagues, business contacts and Globetrooper evangelists. We also developed quite a large Facebook following prior to launch. They've all been extremely supportive and helpful. And we owe them dearly and won't forget them.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?Absolutely. At our last travel Expo, we were escorted out of the building by security guards for ‘validating our idea’ a little too vigorously. We also conducted in-person and online surveys, we questioned other entrepreneurs, we spoke with potential competitors, and we constantly quizzed our contacts to test our hypotheses.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?We are still testing our hypotheses and observing how best to generate revenue from the Globetrooper concept. We’ve talked to many travel agents and tour operators, but we’re still weighing up the virtues and pitfalls of each idea. It's a risky strategy (and fatal in the eyes of some), but it's one we feel is most suited to the goals of Globetrooper.We structured our funding (and expenditure) to allow for a lag between starting the business, learning from customers, and making the first dollar. This is one of the great advantages of not having a professional investor on board; there's no booming voice telling us to hurry up and make a return.We have time on our side. Time to work with and listen to global travelers. We’re strong believers in building value first and taking profits second. Apart from being a little more altruistic, we think it leads to stronger businesses and better economics.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Strengths: We are independent from agents and operators. And we have our own 'experiential' content - the Globe Guide. Weaknesses: We don't make money (yet) and so we are limited by our personal funding. Opportunities: There’s an enormous opportunity to work with tour providers to provide them with groups of travelers who’ve come together of their own volition. Threats: Existing social travel platformsWho advised you your idea isn’t going to be successful and why didn’t you listen to them?Almost everyone who isn't a travel junky gave us negative feedback. And then some of the travel junkies also gave us negative feedback. But we were careful not to let people outside of our target market discourage us. The more we talked to seasoned travelers, the more we realised our analysis of 'the problem' was on the money. With that said, and despite our hypothesis testing, we're still taking a gigantic leap of faith.What is your success metric 12 months from now?We have a few technical metrics: unique visits, registered users, trips created, trips followed and trips traveled. Of course, we're aiming to maximise all of these, but we'd like to gauge initial interest before setting 12-month targets.The first celebration will be when we receive a testimonial that our platform helped to create a trip that significantly changed lives. That’s the purpose of Globetrooper and that’s our true success metric.TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.To be featured as a startup in TLabs Showcase or to demonstrate a new product, email Tnooz for more details.