TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring UK-based cultural travel and trip planning site Historvius.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Historvius maps the historic sites of the world and is fusing history and travel like never before. For the first time, people can explore the world’s historic sites by holiday resort, period of history or famous figure.
Built for history enthusiasts and sightseers alike, Historvius can be used to plan everything from a family day trip to an historic holiday. Users can also shortlist sites and create a personalised pocket guidebook.
Mike Lewis is the CEO and founder and is supported by a number of freelance writers and editors. Mike is a history graduate and digital consultant who has worked in the industry for many years, primarily for leading media organisations.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
The site is entirely self-funded. We’ve been able to keep the initial costs low by doing much of the specification work ourselves and by working all hours of the day and night.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Beyond the better known landmarks, the best historic sites are often difficult to find. We want to help people easily discover the historic sites of the world. Uniquely we let people explore historic sites by location, date, historic period and famous figure.
We aim to help both the general sightseer and the history enthusiast - whether they’re interested in something specific like First World War sites in France, are looking for inspiration or just want to see what’s near their chosen holiday resort.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Historvius is an historic travel website that maps history and provides a directory of historic sites around the globe.
We allow people to explore historic sites according to their chosen holiday destination, any specific historic interest they may have or even by just flying through the map and picking out sites they’re interested in.
Each historic site has a wealth of key information, from a summarised overview to directions, entry details and more.
People can shortlist sites as they go and use our interactive itinerary builder to create and print their own free pocket guidebook to take with them on their travels.
We’re a community portal and people can upload any historic site they’re interested in to the directory.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Our site is meant for the general holidaymaker as well as those with a specific interest in history. We want to help make historic sites more accessible to the general sightseer, as some of the best places to visit are still relatively unknown.
For the history buff, we offer a community site that allows them to explore their particular passions and share their knowledge with others.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We had a small group of users testing the site before launch. This was really useful as we were able to make a number of small usability changes to enhance the experience.
We had a broad range of ages, interests and computer-knowhow in the group which helped us understand the user requirements from a number of different groups.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
We aim to build strong traffic numbers and further expand the core community. In the long term we would consider a number of revenue generation models including advertising, sponsorship and commission-based deals.
As we have managed to keep the initial costs to a minimum we have the flexibility we need to best understand our options without the pressures that come with a need to make quick profits. Whatever we do, we are committed never to compromise the editorial integrity of the site.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- We’re unique in a competitive travel market.
- We’ve got great content and provide an easy-to-understand user experience.
- We have a very well defined proposition.
- As we’re financing the site ourselves we are necessarily cautious on new outlays, we have to make every penny count.
- We’re limited in terms of manpower and have to give every spare hour to the project around our day jobs.
- History is enormously popular
- There’s a chance to tap into the fact that a huge number of people like visiting historic sites on their travels.
- To further expand our user base and build a strong community
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Our biggest threat initially is search. Without the resources to hire expensive SEO agencies we need to rely on improving natural results to gain market share and this can take time.
- Getting noticed in an ever expanding market.
No-one told us it wouldn’t work but there were many confused looks when we first tried to explain the idea. Thankfully, once people were able to actually see the site they understood it straight away.
We were always confident that the idea had legs, but just as a picture paints a thousand words so a live website answers a thousand questions.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
We’d like to double the size of our historic sites database as well as seeing strong user numbers. Beyond this we’d like to see our core community expand and get a healthy flow of user contributions and discussions on the site.
NB: Clip gives a short overview of the site:
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.