TLabs Showcase focus on startups featuring New York, US-based trip planning and content site Wanderfly.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Wanderfly answers a simple question: “Where can I go?” The company is based in New York and co-founded by Evan Schneyer, Christy Liu and Cezary Pietrzak.
We're a small, culturally diverse group of technologists, designers and marketers who want to inspire people to travel more.
A sampling of the big and small companies we've worked for in the past: American Express, Longtail Studios, Young & Rubicam, Pearlfisher, Fitch, Morgan Stanley and Fi.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
We received seed funding about a year ago from a group of angel investors. We're just starting to seek our next round of Series A funding right now.
What problem are you trying to solve?
70% of people don't know where to go 3-4 months before booking a trip (PhoCusWright). Yet there's no easy way for them to get inspired online. The endless choices and web of technicalities is daunting and paralyzing -- so much so that people often forego entire trips. We're on a mission to get people to travel more through a simple, enjoyable and helpful experience.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Wanderfly is a travel inspiration site that helps you discover new experiences, based on your budget and interests.
Powered by a personalized recommendation engine, we suggest more than 1,200 destinations worldwide, and match them flights, hotels and thousands of activities from partners such as Expedia, Foursquare, NileGuide, Yelp and Lonely Planet.
We help you find, organize, share and book your travel – all in one place – so you can get going and start discovering new places.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Curious travelers. People who don't know exactly what they want the second they decide to travel, but are open to discovering new experiences.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We're all avid travelers who have found it incredibly difficult to find the perfect trip using existing online travel tools.
We've had countless conversations over the last year with fellow travelers who have echoed our sentiment: getting inspired online is difficult when there are so many places to look, and when almost all of the major booking sites expect you to know your destination.
Just look at the facts: 68 million people who book travel online don't know where to go a few months before their trip. That's a massive opportunity.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
At launch, our main source of revenue will be commissions from bookings. We're also exploring other ways to monetize our traffic, so we're not forced into a transactional relationship with our users.
We believe there are several ways to create real value while also making money. These range from a custom sponsored content model that replaces traditional advertising, to referrals to qualified travel agents, and white labeling our technology to travel suppliers.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
Our main strength: we're customer-centric in everything we do. We've created a user experience that is simple, intuitive, beautiful and most importantly, useful.
We believe that success is not measured by the number of features a site has, but how well we can replicate the human thought process and serve needs.
With the inspiration space still largely untapped, there is a huge opportunity to define the entire category and what consumers can expect from it.
Our weaknesses are those typical of any startup: telling our story and convincing people to try Wanderfly with a limited marketing budget.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
No one really disagreed with the potential of Wanderfly. In fact, they only encouraged us to build it. That's because the problem that we identified was very human, and the need for the solution very real.
We were asked only one question: can we really do something in a market with huge, existing players already? The simple answer is yes, every industry needs brands to challenge the status quo and set a new, higher bar.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Getting people to use Wanderfly is our biggest metric of success. If we get them to try the product, we know they'll get excited about it and love it.
TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.