TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based recommendation and planning engine for mobile, SpotWorld.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
SpotWorld, a new mobile travel startup, was co-founded by Joseph Chong, CEO and Shashank Likhite, CTO. We are both travel enthusiasts who wanted to solve one of our own problems: How to find the best travel spots in any destination.
Joseph previously worked in product management at PayPal, AdBrite, and TrialPay in Silicon Valley. Shashank previously worked at Playdom, Green Patch, and Model N, also all in Silicon Valley.
SpotWorld is a travel guide and social network which helps travelers discover and learn about the best spots, anywhere. We also offer a compelling social experience around itinerary sharing.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
We are currently bootstrapped and intentionally wanted to stay financially lean through our launch.
What problem are you trying to solve?
We are trying to solve travelers’ universal dilemma: How do I figure out the best places to go when I travel to a new destination?
81% of travelers say they rely most heavily on friends, which was a key reason we incorporated social and sharing experiences in the application.
Describe the business, core products and services?
We have a location-based iPhone app which helps users view great spots at Destinations all over the world. We have interactive media (photos, articles, and audio) for 500,000 places all over the world.
The app also has social experiences around itinerary browsing and sharing, and enables users to track and share their travels.
SpotWorld also has a website at Spotworld.com, where users can also view the interactive media and published itineraries.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Travelers who own an iPhone and/or iPod touch. We have attracted initial users with press, social media (Twitter, Facebook), and app store marketing (we have been a featured app in the travel category a few times)
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Yes, we have had customer feedback and validation in our private alpha and beta launches.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
We employ a freemium business model. We currently monetize with in-app purchases, and have a trial of a couple if in-app purchases.
We plan to add additional in-app purchases for premium content and premium functionality, and also to add advertising as a secondary revenue stream
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Highly interactive and engaging app, Social approach, broad base of initial media, and coverage of many of the world’s top destinations.
- New company with no established brand name or customer base. We need to add more media.
- Build a user base through awareness campaigns, social/viral features, the mobile/app growth in user base. We aim to become a compelling new player that takes share amidst general flux in the travel media industry.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- There are many established competitors in travel media and location-based apps.
A potential investor advised us during a brainstorming session that it would be hard for us to be a new player in a market with existing companies.
We didn’t listen to them because we believed we could be a more engaging, interactive, and cloud-based product and attract new users with a social/viral approach.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
12 months from now we would like to have one million users and to have further augmented our media. We would like to have iterated to an even better product and to launch on the iPad.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.