TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based travel television web production service This Is My City.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
This Is My City is a new reality travel show in which two freewheeling Brooklynites, Thomas and Tim, let total strangers guide them through the world’s greatest cities. It’s a show about two friends who go out to learn about the world through new friends.
Tim Kafalas and Thomas Beug first met in New York in 2004. They bonded over a shared love for losing themselves in foreign lands.
They were also both serious about filmmaking: Thomas, a 30-year-old Irishman, was an agency producer at Droga5, a Creativity Magazine Advertising Agency of the Year, while Tim, American and 31, worked as a video editor at MTV.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
The business was launched with the financial support of an angel investor, business loans and a sauna load of sweat equity.
What problem are you trying to solve?
The problem that we saw with most travel shows is that they favour the voice of the traveller, visitor or expert. We wanted to make a show that puts the local first and lets the viewer get to know a city through the unique characters that live in it.
Another problem we saw with travel shows is that a lot of them are overly produced and set-up. Hence our guerrilla production model – we shoot it, we’re in it, we produce it and we edit it. This creates a more personal, real and relatable experience for the viewer.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Our core product is an eight-episode season of This Is My City for your entertainment, education and couch-based escapism.
These eight 30-minute shows profile local characters in Lisbon, Berlin, Belgrade, Beirut, Beijing, Tokyo, Melbourne and Wellington.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Our key customers at launch are TV networks and content distributors around the world. Our users at launch are spread across the 18 to 40-year-old demographic.
They include travel enthusiasts, backpackers, hipsters, city dwellers, disgruntled nine-to-fivers and the generally curious amongst us.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We made the Reykjavik pilot of This Is My City off our own back in 2008 and held a screening for friends, peers and industry professionals in New York.
Feedback was overwhelmingly positive so we took the project forward from there. The pilot also helped to bring our investor to the table.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Our business model is high quality content for a low budget with low overhead. We live in an age when it is possible to produce a broadcast quality TV show on a shoestring.
We can thus recoup our costs quickly if the show gets distribution. The risk is the ‘if’ of that last sentence.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- This Is My City is a fresh, original take on the travel show formula. As a concept, it presents a way for people to travel and have fun in tough economic times. It’s also a low budget show with low overhead and only one investor.
- Your hosts Tim and Thomas are, sadly, unknown talent. The path to profitability is high risk in the TV world and a potential strength could also be considered a weakness - namely the fact that we are not following a tried and tested formula.
- If we land a distribution deal for This Is My City, we could get the opportunity to create additional seasons of the show and/or create new shows for TV. In that sense This Is My City is a real career launching pad.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- There is no way to prevent somebody else making a show with exactly the same concept as ours.
A TV exec told us our show needed to be quest-based to succeed in the non-scripted TV market. We didn’t listen to him because we hate quest-based TV and wanted most of all to do something genuine and personal – something real rather than something melodramatic.
We are more interested in learning what a city is about from the people who live in it than we are in seeing how many grasshoppers we can eat in an hour or being forced to vote each other off the show each week.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
- International distribution for season one of This Is My City.
- A commission for season two.
- New career opportunities flooding in.
- Models for wives.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.