TLabs Showcase - ZonearNewsBy Kevin May | February 3, 2011Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring Finland-based travel application and mobile software company Zonear.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?Zonear is a mobile software startup from Tampere, Finland. The company, founded in 2010, specializes in map-based mobile web applications for travel destinations, theme parks, nature parks and sightseeing tours.Zonear was founded by Timo Pietilä, Markku Haukijärvi, Mikko Tikkanen and Matti Lehto. The founders possess a great mix of cutting edge skill and experience in the fields of web technologies, UI design, project management, sales and marketing.What financial support did you have to launch the business?None. The company is privately owned and operated. However, Zonear did get the vital support in the start from Protomo, which is a non-profit startup incubator concept from Finland operating in multiple cities and funded by the public sector.Protomo provided us with office space and different consulting services such as legislative, market research and sales consulting.What problem are you trying to solve?Zonear helps it's clients to communicate their offering to their customers on the move in a compelling way.With our customized mobile maps, the users can discover and find the services and places our clients' are offering to them.In essence, we bring the old paper maps and brochures to the digital age with dynamic mobile maps that can offer content in different languages and gather valuable statistics about user behaviour.Describe the business, core products and services?We have three types of core products: mobile travel guides, mobile event guides and mobile museum guides. We also offer free consulting to our clients to help them find out what kind of mobile solution would best serve their audience.Our mobile guides are mobile web apps, which means they are used through the mobile device's browser.The benefit of this is that these mobile applications can be used on almost any touch screen smart phone and there's no installation required, which significantly lowers the barrier to use them.Mobile web apps can even be used offline once they've been loaded in the browser once, which is very convenient for avoiding those expensive roaming fees.Our mobile guides can be completely customized both visually and functionally to represent our clients' brand and the specific needs of their business.We also track different user behaviour statistics, which can be be specified for each client separately. We compile them to a monthly report and provide it to our clients to provide valuable information in their business development.Who are your key customers and users at launch?Our prototype guide was a mobile tour guide for the City of Tampere, which presented the industrial history of Tampere by showcasing different heritage sites around the Tampere downtown area.We got a lot valuable feedback from it and used it to hone our mobile application framework and tools to support a wide range of different kind of mobile devices.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?No, since we have no outside investors and we've been operating on own revenue from the start.However, Zonear's business concept was evolved originally from a wikipedia-like mobile city guide for Symbian devices.We used customer development to create a new business concept of separate mobile web apps and developed a minimun viable product to validate it.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?At the core of our business model is our mobile application framework. We’ve made it very modular and scalable, which allows us to build, customize and deploy mobile applications swiftly. Updates and bug fixes are also integrated to each application automatically.First we offer free consulting to our clients to specify what are the main problems and needs they would like to solve with a mobile application. After that we present our ready-made features of which our clients can choose from to create exactly the combination which best serves their specific needs.Each feature has a set price, which is charged when we implement these features. We can even develop completely new features to a single client with the price being determined on a case-by-case basis.We also charge a small monthly fee for hosting the application on our servers and providing a monthly analytics report.We put emphasis on long client relationships. Mobile apps are not necessarily very familiar for many of our clients and it might be challenging to determine in the beginning what kind of app would best serve their business.Our application framework enables us to add new features to existing application so our clients can start off with an affordable basic application and make feature upgrades based on their experiences and the feedback from their customers.Thanks to our framework we can also upgrade the existing applications very easily and affordably.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Strengths: Wide support for different touch screen devices, fast production and deployment, possibility to brand the mobile guide, small and agile team. Weaknesses: We’re a startup with limited resources, but we are looking for investor to scale up our business. Opportunities: Our product fits to many different customer segments, huge market potential. Threats: There will be a lot of competition in the future.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?So far the feedback has been 100% positive.What is your success metric 12 months from now?We aim to secure first round of funding to scale our business bigger and improve our development tools further. NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.