TLabs Showcase - WazzambaNewsBy Kevin May | July 8, 2010Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase focus on startups featuring Switzerland-based travel gaming company Wazzamba.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?The founder and CEO is Rocco Pellegrinelli, a succesful serial technology enterpreneur.He managed to grow his previous start-up (Brainpower) into a leading global financial software player, going public in 2000 at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and then in 2006 being sold to the Bloomberg Group.The other members of the management team are professionals of the gaming industry.What financial support did you have to launch the business?The company has been funded with seed capital by the founder and then in two rounds by a group of high profile angels, with a strong background in finance, travel and marketing .What problem are you trying to solve?We want to allow thosands of people to be able to travel more. We want to make an impact in the real life of people by making possible for them to win the trip of their dreams.The way to do this is to compete in a skill-based competition made of casual games and to complete quests in our travel-themed virtual world.The best players win fully paid travel packages every week. This is part of the new generation of on-line social and casual games where people receive a tangible reward in the real world on top of having fun.We want to offer more value for the time and the money that on-line game players spend today.Describe the business, core products and services?Wazzamba is a unique online social game that combines virtual exploration with skill-based casual games offering users the opportunity to win real world travel prizes.It is designed to appeal to casual gamers as well as non-gamers who are interested in travel.Players can create and personalise their avatar, visit virtual cities, meet friends, engage in quests and other challenges, play trivia and earn points for the winning score.They can also earn Wazzamba miles that can be spent for buying virtual goods and power-ups. Once a week the best scores win one of the many prizes available. The essence is play, win, travel.Who are your key customers and users at launch?The target demographics of Wazzamba are online casual gamers in the 22 to 55 age range. This is consistent with the population of actual users, who are 70% female.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?We ran a number of user group tests to validate and to fine tune the proposition and the user experience.The concept has been received enthusiastically by our early users. The gameplay continues to evolve as we add content and fine-tune functionality following our users feedback.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?Wazzamba offers free membership as well as premium subscription. Premium members have access to more and higher value prizes so fees are part of the model.The second component is microtransactions via the sale of decorative as well as functional virtual goods.A third stream of revenues will be travel focused advertisement, advertgaming and e-commerce.Players of wazzamba share a strong interest for travelling so our community is very appealing to travel operators.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Strengths: We have a truly innovative concept of combining games and travels, bringing more value for the time and money that people spend playing social games online. Weaknesses: We are still light in the travel expertise area. We will have to expand the team managing the purchase of travel packages. We have to better communicate the travels options, content and details. We have to leverage more the whole travel theme. Opportunities: To become the brand of reference to consumers about going on holiday for free. The proposition “you travel, we pay” is a disruptive idea with fast and global scalability. Threats: Our users win on the basis of a competition based on skill-games. Changes to regulations of skill games in key countries may limit our ability to offer prizes and therefore to grow. There are no indications of dramatic changes in this field, but this is a risk. Competition from travel operators might be another threat. However we believe that the market is so big that can accommodate more players.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?Frankly we never met anyone opposing the idea .We rather met people quite enthusiastic abot “travels meet games”.What is your success metric 12 months from now?The key metric is growing the active users community to reach break-even. At the same time we will be looking at retention and monetisation metrics.We have set reasonable goals for the next 12 months, but we also believe that we can substantially exceed them, if we can create strategic alliances with key travel operators, which is one of our goals.TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.