TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based TripColor, a blogging and content platform on mobile devices for travellers.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
TripColor wants to be Tumblr in the travel space. We try to make travel blogging fun, social and easy to use again. We focus on mobile platform, and currently we support iPhone.
Launched for a month, to date we have over 20k travel spots created from 120 countries around the world.
We are a team of two based in Silicon Valley California with myself (Karen Lee) as founder. Before starting TripColor, I worked in Yahoo Search and my teammate worked for Apple. Both of us studied Computer Science and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
And we love travelling! My favourites so far are camping in Sahara Desert and adventure hike in Paria Wave, Arizona.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
We are currently self-funded, and we just started to look for investors.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Currently, there is no good way to keep track of your own travel memory. Current travel blogging websites are so out-dated, and painful to use. A lot of those blogs have long clumsy descriptions that nobody cares to read.
Imagine after your 20-day Egypt trip, you will have to transfer all the photos from your camera to computer, edit the pictures, then upload them to the blog sites, organize them, add descriptions, manually add location information for each one of them, and so on.
Most people just avoid all the hassles, and they eventually lost those precious moments. I bet that there’s a high chance you still have pictures taken from your last trip in your camera SD card.
Mobile applications such as Facebook/Instagram/Foursquare don’t really address this issue though. They are only good at sharing. You cannot tell a complete travel story by just sharing photos or location, and you most likely don’t have internet during your trip anyway.
We strongly feel that TripColor can fill such gap.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Our iPhone app TripColor takes most of the work behind the scene and emphasize on an easy to use photo micro-blogging interface.
Travellers can create their travel blog during their trips even without network connection, and a personal web blog would be created for them automatically. They can share their travel adventure with their friends and family in real time.
Our goal is to collect real and rich travel experience, and present them on the website as well as the mobile application. Travellers can browse others’ itineraries to get information for their next destination or get inspired for new places to travel.
A lot of businesses focus on the pre-trip planning phase or post-trip review phase. We are positioning ourselves as a mobile app that traveller will use DURING their trip, and we think the key to that is blogging and sharing.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
We first target at travellers who love to blog about their trip, then target at those who are looking for travel information for their next destinations.
At launch, we make sure that our travel blogging experience is seamless and easy to use. As we gather more travel itineraries, we’ll add more features for easier data consumption.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We are our own investors at this point. We are seeing solid number of user registrations, and most importantly, users are very engaging.
The user feedback we received through email and social networks is promising so far, we even got emails saying they would love to pay for the service (yes, TripColor is free).
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
We are based on a freemium business model, you can download TripColor in Apple app store for free.
Strategically, our goal is to collect original and rich travel experience effectively, which is very valuable for travel discovery. Business could be built around such content.
And since majority of our users blog during their trip, there could be some very interesting ways to monetize while they are travelling.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Strong engineering team. We are engineers from Yahoo and Apple, and we travel a lot. So we have a good sense of what it takes to make a good travel product, and most importantly be able to deliver it.
- The team is small. We have a long laundry list of stuff need to be executed. Getting extra capital and investments would be the key to keep us ahead of the game.
- With increasingly powerful smartphones, going mobile is inevitable for the travel industry. However, there aren’t many fun mobile applications in the travel category yet, which provides plenty of opportunities for us to grow.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- There are other mobile apps working in the same area but using different approach. Easiness to use and understanding what users want will be the key to differentiate us from others.
When someone doesn’t buy your idea, doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to succeed. You just need to make sure you are talking to the right audience. Some of my friends who originally don’t blog, once they started using our app, they just got hooked.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
We are hoping that TripColor will be the "go-to" app when people go travelling, for business or vacation purposes.
Aside from the number of page views and daily/monthly active users, we mostly look at how engaging our users are, based on the number of posts and trips they create.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.