TLabs Showcase - Stay.comNewsBy Kevin May | June 15, 2010Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase focus on startups featuring Norway-based Stay.com.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?The Norwegian company EuropaReiser AS runs a profitable hotel booking service in Scandinavia. Stay.com is the new venture within the company. Joachim Paasche, founder and CEO.Knut Urdalen, co-founder and CTOQiang Xue, senior web developerWei Zhou, senior web developerMichael Härtl, senior web developerWhat financial support did you have to launch the business?The development of Stay.com is financed by the profitable business concern of EuropaReiser AS.What problem are you trying to solve?There are a lot of booking services for flights, car rentals, and hotels in the travel space. After the bookings however, there are not that many refined services, which give the user a simplified and rich experience on what to DO and EAT on their travels.There are also very few which offer true social aspects, and especially not refined mobile technology. Stay.com is being developed to solve all the problems any single current online travel website has, by refining and adding to a single online platform.Usually users do not carry their laptops or computers with them everywhere as they travel. This is why stay.com allows users to create their own nicely designed travel guides in a compact format, which is easy to fold and carry with them.In the next phase, users will have the ability to download these “interactive guides” to their smart phones. Furthermore, personalized travel guides are the perfect starting point for collaboration around travel planning in social networks when people are planning their travel together. Stay.com Beta already has these capabilities and more, at a very early stage.Describe the business, core products and services?Stay.com is all about delivering a simplified, aesthetically pleasing, and even fun experience around the ideas of not only the individual, but that user’s network of family and friends. With stay.com beta, users can create travel guides collaboratively, while using the system’s highly refined content. Stay.com also has a very sophisticated hotel booking engine that users can depend on for ensuring their “stays” are the best possible in every way.Who are your key customers and users at launch?We've worked hard to create a simplified user interface that works equally good for both experienced and regular users of Stay.com, as well as those using other online travel services. Anyone who likes to travel, or needs to on business, is a potential Stay.com user.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?Stay.com researched within the customer bases of other Europareiser, and parent investment and travel company Braganza, as well as other current and previous travel niche operations. Given the “edge” some competing online travel sites possess, as well as user feedback, Stay.com plotted its current course.However, since the key investors are integral to the overall business plans of Stay.com; this validation was a part of the overall plan and business strategy.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?Stay.com is an ad-free online experience that allows users to create their own personal travel guides. In order to deliver an ad-free service we built our own hotel-booking engine which fits perfectly within the concept. Instead of getting ads from other websites, we delivered a recommendation engine for hotels to offer great deals based on what users add to their guides. Stay.com makes money from hotels bookings.Later features and premium services which users may opt into are being discussed and developed, but for the user it is important to understand that “core” free features will be continually added. Stay will always be ad-free, always support user needs, and always on the cutting edge of technical improvements.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?Strengths: Dedication and expertise of our people. We have engaged some of the finest minds in Internet technology and other fields. Other strengths include; our integration of current technologies for user value, the financial strength of our organization, and a commitment to the most crucial factor in successful business – customer value. Weakness: Market adoption. Aside from this, creating a competitive edge is one thing, holding onto it is quite another. Any highly skilled development team can reproduce what Stay.com is making, over time that is. However, the dedication to customer value and support, the ad-free nature of Stay, and “trust” are something we feel we can excel at always. Opportunities: Right now these are virtually limitless. The advent of online travel services of unimaginable power and flexibility is here. As you will soon see, Stay.com is not a small venture. Sure there are huge competitive issues, but “seeing” the end result goes a long way toward creating it. Threats: Competition from other businesses, market fluctuations, unforeseen technical issues, a host of negatives await anyone interjecting into a market. No company can prepare for all of these. However, Stay.com’s investors, the development team, and the collaborators already in place, make a strong statement about preparedness.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?Half the people we consulted about our vision. If you take the aspects in SWOT above, and multiply them times the thousands of people we have talked to, just divide by two and these are the “nay-sayers.”We listened to the other half, and the positive attitude and feedback propelled our original ideas even farther. We did listen to the detractors, for some of their suggested hurdles were viable ones. Therefore, we used their feedback to erase those one at a time. Not all are gone, but this is Stay.com Beta.What is your success metric 12 months from now?Our success roadmap is a realistic one, while at the same time being forward thinking. Our success metrics come in different flavours obviously. As a user base, on the order of 3 to 4 hundred thousand does not seem unrealistic given the upcoming features and incentives.What’s more important than raw traffic numbers is the level and quality at which we engage and satisfy travellers who use Stay.com. There are so many things involved here, but highly motivated and active community is as important as anything is.To accomplish the latter we intend to create much more gripping and useful content and features. The mobile aspect is a huge one. In a year, we see people on the go using Stay.com to help them everywhere, any time, in many ways. Geocentric features are the future, whoever gets there best, and first will have all the other success metrics.Lastly, when combined with other tools, companies, and networks, the Stay.com of a year from now will be one of the most powerful travel related tools available anywhere. Bold vision, we know, but not only possible, probable with the right variables in place.TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.