Tint, according to its founders, emerged out of an 'epiphany' for a website based on Facebook that would provide travel experiences with a more local feel.
It is essentially a Facebook application formed by four friends and seeking to unite travellers with locals just for advice or a drink, dinner and even accommodation.
"Most people find it hard to trust or approach strangers, especially while travelling. So basically, that gave us this idea. And with our engineering background, the idea of Tint finally emerged onto a solid platform."
It is run by Alexandre Cesaro, chief technology officer, Brice Lecompte, user experience and design, Rouven Aboulker, software engineer and Yannick Oudin, marketing and communications.
Aside from social media marketing specialist KRDS taking 2% of the company and helping the team to design and develop the new version of the website, there are no other funding arrangements.
Tint is targeting a particular segment of Facebook users of about seven million - those aged 18-35 years old who travel.
Although the team admits Airbnb and Couchsurfing are competitors it believes its deep Facebook integration sets it apart. It also believes the social network element addresses the safety concerns of staying with a complete stranger.
"Tint will make sure of the authenticity of its users. Tint is about traveling, friendships and diving into the heart of a city that other sites, apps don't provide."
The aim is to make money via advertising (including affiliate) on the app. The company says being able to precisely target customers will give it an advantage with advertisers such as airlines and event organisers.
Describe what your start-up does, what problem it solves (differently to what is already out there) and for whom?
We are creating a Facebook application which will bring together travelers and local people.
There are two customers:
- The traveler, who wants to step off the tourist track and go into the local culture
- The local, who wants to travel while staying home
For now, the potential customers don't have a safe service. Tint simply brings them together using the power of social networking.
Tint is not just a product, an app but a service, to change lives, to change how people travel, to help its users have a good, enjoyable time.
Why should people or companies use your startup?
Tint will revolutionize travel as we know it. It is a Facebook application which will bring travelers and locals together, for a drink, dinner, sightseeing and even accommodation. Using the power of Facebook, it will generalize this exciting way of traveling, where travelers step off of the tourist track and where the locals enjoy cultural talks.
It is safe, simple and the huge number of users will make sure that most of the requests will be attended to.
Tint also makes traveling easier and cheaper.
Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?
We have two dedicated PR personnel. We are also partners with a social media company called KRDS. KRDS allows us to post about Tint on Facebook. These posts reach more than five million people (on Facebook). When we start making money, we will run ad campaigns (mainly on Facebook) and be present on different app stores. We have a strong network in France. Earlier, without any PR, we were approached by a National French TV network who made a TV report on in. Tint is new and interesting.
How did your initial idea evolve? Were there changes/any pivots along the way? What other options have you considered for the business if the original vision fails?
Yes, there were a lot of changes made. The first version of Tint was too complicated, the design was also bad. We made it simple and better by using the help of an agency. We also added more pictures, created a nicer design. The first version was not mobile compatible; the current version is a fully responsive design app. We will listen to our users and make A/B testing.
Where do you see yourselves in 3 years time, what specific challenges do you hope to have overcome?
Managing Tint for millions of users will bring a lot of challenges. Tint will evolve and continue to change with the age and technology.
- Better performance
- Improve safety
- Follow technical and design web trends.
Tint will listen to its users and change accordingly, because in the end, it is about providing the best service.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
Tint is more than just travel or tourism. It is about having a good time, meeting new people, learning about various cultures, traditions and even picking up a foreign language. Most travelers are afraid to step outside the 'tourist zone' or even befriend others, especially the local people. That is where Tint comes in; it will break down the barriers and bring tourists and locals together. Tint is not only for the tourists but also for the locals. All the other travel apps in the market do not cater to its users as Tint does. Tint gives safety, since it’s connected to Facebook and its users mingle with people in their own circle of friends. Tint aims to provide a good time and helps travellers to visit places that are unadvertised on guide books. Tint brings culture back to tourism and takes tourism back to traditional traveling with the right amount of technology!
Lots of people travel and lots of people tap friends and friends of friends for a bed for the night but is it a business in itself via Facebook?
Yes, Airbnb is now sizeable while copy-cat businesses and other niche players around the world have gained their own traction but it feels as if the social travel/travel like a local thing has been done.
Add to that the fact that we're beginning to see moves in terms of Facebook Graph and Tint feels like a travel Facebook within Facebook.
The safety angle is an interesting one, reassurance that you're not staying with a complete stranger, but how many moves away from a friend of friend does it take for someone to become a complete stranger?
What Tint (stands for Tint is not tourism) is trying to achieve is admirable - travel experiences, bringing out local culture, personalisation and travel advice all based on your social circle but many new businesses seem to be founded along these lines.
Perhaps there's something in the very targeted information the startup will have about its users, as long as users are prepared to be targeted that is. Some say if you're on a social network, it's fair game, in reality users may feel differently.
Tint currently has 20,000 users, it will be interesting to watch that grow and see how the targeted advertising model plays out.