TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring UK-based digital lifestyle and social review service The Nudge.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
The Nudge is a hybrid digital lifestyle publication and social review platform. It was founded by Neil Frame: an ex-lawyer and, subsequently, the director of a London flatsharing startup and residential property investment fund.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
Initially none – it was bootstrapped until we raised seed capital in May 2011.
What problem are you trying to solve?
We’re trying to solve the old problem of trying to create an environment online in which friends – the best source of good and trustworthy recommendations – can exchange reviews and tips for great restaurants, bars, hotels etc.
Our approach is different to others trying to solve this same problem, by merging a digital lifestyle publication with a social review platform.
Describe the business, core products and services?
It’s a hybrid digital lifestyle publication and social review platform. Members use the site to keep track of things they'd like to experience, and to exchange recommendations with their friends.
Members also receive daily emails, that we curate, on the best of London and beyond – new restaurant and bar launches, invitations to unique events, plus travel and lifestyle features.
On receiving our emailed content members might either add whatever has been featured to their To Do list, or it might inspire them to add their own review (either for that specific place, or for another that it has reminded them of). For example, in travel, we recently featured the Faena Hotel and Universe which lead to a raft of members adding reviews for other hotels in Buenos Aires that they’d visited and enjoyed.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
While the review platform on the site can be used by anyone, the target demographic for our digital publication is young London-based professionals who have an appetite to make the most of life both in London and beyond it.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Yes, but as we learnt soon after launch there is often a wide gap between what people say they would enjoy using and them actually using it! When it comes to building a site that relies on user generated content, many underestimate just how infrequently users will actually, actively contribute to it.
Merging our digital publication with the social review platform led to a far higher level of engagement by the members than even we had expected.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
A variety of revenue streams will come from advertising, with additional revenue streams being generated via deals for members, unique events and bespoke commercial partnerships.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- A unique product and a very "non-web 2.0" design.
- There are several large and established competitors for each of the elements that make up the site.
- Location-based marketing via the app, launching in new cities (anyone interested in our partnership model, to run the site in their city, should please get in touch!)
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Facebook making its open graph work without all of your friends having to sign up to multiple sites and without you (and them) having to give data sharing permissions to each one.
My closest friend from school thought that it was an awful idea. I didn’t listen to him mainly because he’s a very straight-laced career man who isn’t on Facebook, and who thinks that every idea is awful.
He also kindly followed up his advice with the suggestion that I perhaps ought to "grow up, get married and find a proper job", which made it even easier to ignore him. We’re quite different!
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
For our advertising revenues alone to be capable of supporting the growth of the team and the development of some new and very exciting parts of the business (which, frustratingly, we need to keep on hold for now).
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.