TLabs Showcase - TourSpotNewsBy Kevin May | December 22, 2010Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based mobile travel development firm TourSpot.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?TourSpot develops mobile apps containing travel content for brands. The apps leverage our TourSpot Content Server where we store licensed point of interest content that is accessible on mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad, etc.CEO is Alex Zaltsman. Alex started an IT services company in 1998 and sold it in 2008. TourSpot is his second company. Others on the team consist of development and support staff.What financial support did you have to launch the business?Company is self-funded.What problem are you trying to solve?We significantly shorten the cycle of integrating travel content into mobile apps.Travel companies who want to include travel content, like point of interest details, restaurants, shops, museums, etc typically license this content from providers and then have to maintain their own databases and IT systems to support the content.We host this content and make it available to the app framework that we’ve built. Our apps can be quickly customized and launched, most of the time, within 30 days.Describe the business, core products and services?Our business consists of licensing the content on our TourSpot Content Server, which we host.We have an app framework for iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry. Our business model is licensing access to our content server as well as software development to customize the framework that we’ve built.We provide our customers with professional wireframes and mock-ups detailing how their app will look.We also provide the ability to customize the data their users will receive. We have content for over 320 cities worldwide.Our apps have built-in integration with social media/itinerary technologies like Foursquare, Tripit, Facebook and Twitter.Who are your key customers and users at launch?Marriott International’s Renaissance Hotels brand has licensed our app framwork and TourSpot Content Server for their R Navigator iPad and iPhone app.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?NoWhat is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?TourSpot Content Server licensing and software development fees to customize our framerwork. We also can provide a variety of consulting services related to mobile software, although that is not a significant part of our business.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Strengths: Substantial content accessible through our platform. App framework completed. Weaknesses: Basic content is available from many sources, even internal sources at some companies. Opportunities: Many travel brands have launched apps, especially hotels. The functionality of many of these apps have been limited and these brands may want to add content to provide more value to their apps. Threats: Brands may want to spent time and money to utilize their own IT resources to implement the technology that we have already created.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?Our initial business model was to sell apps directly to the consumers, and that didn’t work out well. Mostly investors told us that selling apps wasn’t the way to go.We tried it. It didn’t work because we didn’t have a consumer brand (like Lonely Planet, Frommers, etc).So instead of folding we decided to go the private label route and use the technology we developed in a different way. And it’s worked out great so far with Marriott International being our hallmark customer.What is your success metric 12 months from now?Do business with the top five global hospitality brands and airlines by the end of 2011.NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.