TLabs Showcase - KukunuNewsBy Kevin May | July 20, 2010Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase focus on startups featuring UK-based trip planning service Kukunu.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?Kukunu is a London-based start up taking a new approach to travel planning.It was founded by Gerald Goldstein, Ph.D. in physics and Itamar Lesuisse, ex-Amazon, in September 2009 at Seedcamp.What financial support did you have to launch the business?We started the company out of our living room, bootstrapped and counting on our wives to pay the rent. After few months we had a first preview of the platform ready for testing by some beta users.We recently raised a seed round with a fantastic group of investors: Jaina Capital (Marc Simoncini), Kima Ventures (Xavier Niel) and Seedcamp.What problem are you trying to solve?Travel planning. While we can find a large amount of content, reviews and booking engines across the web, travellers still miss a service to consolidate their planning experience, with online travel we lost the convenience of a travel agent.Some numbers to highlight the issue: 50% of travellers still consider planning a major pain point before leaving for vacation and online users spend an average of 29 days on more than 20 different websites between the first search and booking.Describe the business, core products and services?Whether it's two weeks in Spain or ten days in California, Kukunu helps you build your itinerary across cities before planning all aspects of your trip, such as hotels, restaurants, sights or activities.Because you might not travel alone, Kukunu is a collaborative experience, allowing co-travellers to work together to plan fantastic trips.Your friends on Kukunu, Twitter or Facebook can also contribute by sharing their ideas and suggestions.To bring you the best experience, Kukunu has teamed up with trusted travel providers so that you can directly access more than 100,000 hotels and 200,000 activities, restaurants and sights.We have already teamed up with travel players such as Booking.com, Expedia, Opentable, Isango and Viator. With much more in the pipeline.Who are your key customers and users at launch?If you love travel and believe that travel is better when you plan it yourself, then Kukunu is for you.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?The idea behind Kukunu started from our own travel experiences, often planning trips on a piece of paper or a calendar.It's when Itamar's wife planned a trip on a Google spreadsheet that everything became clear, content and booking had been solved but the planning process was still broken.Since then we have talked and tested our products with hundreds of travellers covering a wide range of travel styles and budget.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?Commission on hotel and activity bookings is our main revenue channel.Our focus on great user experience prevents us from using display adds on the site, and our strategy is to serve users as best as we can, constantly increasing the selection of travel products.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Our approach to travel planning is quite unique and there is a real opportunity here to solve a massive issue. Our biggest bet is our focus on building a great experience first, focusing on content at a later stage.We have no doubt our strong technology and product management DNA will lead to a fantastic product.We'll be facing the same challenge as most travel start ups: getting visibility in a crowded space.Our weakness is probably the fact that we believe a great product will always find is way to users, we'll leave it to our users to prove us right or wrong.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?When you share your product vision with many industry insiders and investors, as we have, you'll always find some believers and non-believers. We believe in our vision and we'll keep moving forward, iterate the product and let our users be the the final judge.What is your success metric 12 months from now?Users completing their trip planning and booking on Kukunu.TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.