TLabs Showcase - IMGuestNewsBy Dennis Schaal | April 15, 2011Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring Israel-based social network for hotels IMGuest.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?We are two founders who have been working together for about four years on multiple startups, mainly are internet based.Our first startup is an internet platform for rating professors and high education institutions in Israel.The second startup is a unique search engine for neighborhood reviews as well as for sharing real estate info in Israel. Following these local startups, we moved forward to the global internet arena and founded a marketing platform for webmasters.We recently have founded our own consulting firm for startups in the internet and social media sector. As for today, we are only focusing on IMGuest and working to achieve its goals.Founders: Asaf Engel has a BA degree in economics and business.Yossy Mendelovich owns a BS degree in Biology and a masters degree in Biochemistry.What financial support did you have to launch the business?We raised capital for the seed stage (angels and self-funded) and we are also talking to VCs in order to get more capital for further development missions and marketing.What problem are you trying to solve?We have been spending a lot of time on business trips in order to raise capital - the planes, terminals and especially hotels were our second home.We noticed a need for business people, who spend a lot of time in their hotel rooms, to meet like-minded people so they might interact and relieve the boredom.Anyone who is a frequent traveler knows that being at a hotel is much less glamorous than it looks from the outside. You arew away from your family and you are alone in the hotel room even though you may be willing to communicate and have interesting interactions with others like you.We have also noticed that the hotel industry is conservative. Not much has changed there. We know that the accommodation ecosystem would love to transform their hotels with a social business aspect if they can readily find a way to do it.IMGuest truly can improve the whole hotel experience and hotel-guest interactions.We offer sophisticated marketing tools for hoteliers and their guests with break-through services.Describe the business, core products and services?IMGuest connects the world’s business travelers to make them more productive and successful.We believe that every social interaction has the potential to lead to profits and other business benefits. By using our platform, you might find a hotel guest that has information or the skills you need.Your success as a professional depends upon expansion of your social and business networking.One of the best things about IMGuest is the notifications apparatus. You can follow an interesting guest (as you can on Twitter) and get notified when this guest is at your hotel, looked at your profile, checked into a nearby hotel and vise versa.This system creates a useful synergy and interaction between guests from all over the world and engages them for social communication and even meetings.Services for guests: IMGuest creates an Innovative social arena used by business travelers to connect and create new business opportunities by checking into hotels. Services for hoteliers: Real time guests stats and analytics - IMGuest enables hotel owners to obtain a social report about their guests without exposing their personal identity. (Gender, Occupation, Hometown and country, Hotel history and more business- oriented details)Engage and reward hotel guests - An interactive message section allows the hotel to give awards to guests and offer them interesting activities in the hotel, such as jazz nights, spa visits, conferences and more. By making hotel guests’ stays more enjoyable, there is a better chance they will come back in the future.Valuable authentic feedback and tips from hotel guests - After each guest’s “check-out”, he or she will be prompted to fill out an electronic and anonymous survey form.Hotel widget - The hotel widget is dedicated to the hospitality and online travel industry. The widget can be implemented on travel sites and helps transform them into a business social arena.Who are your key customers and users at launch?All business travel people and hotels worldwide.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?We keep receiving positive feedback from our users as well as from the hospitality industry.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?Revenue will derive from a lot of possibilities starting from premium services to hotels, premium services for users, location-based deals and more.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Strengths: The first and only hotel social network for all business travelers to meet peers during their business stay. Weaknesses: User can’t hide his interest by checking out other user profile. We urge our users to make real connections, not just looking at profiles. Opportunities: Become the dominant social network for hotels and business travelers worldwide. Threats: Potential competitors may arise.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?Most people liked our idea but we also heard criticism from an experienced entrepreneur that by focusing on business travelers, we would limit the number of potential users.We didn’t adopt this feedback since we believe in the need we are filling for business travelers, which a relatively large and sophisticated set of users.What is your success metric 12 months from now?We recently launched our LinkedIn connect option. Users are now able to connect IMGuest through their LinkedIn accounts, making it much more business-oriented and facilitates social interactions.Furthermore, in the next few months we will be launching the IMGuest iphone application. It will be a really cool and exciting -- a break-through social networking app for hotels and their guests.Our vision is to cooperate with every hotel (no matter the size) in the world. When guests arrive at their hotels, guests will use IMGuest to improve their stay and make it much more useful, fun and productive. NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.