TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring Sweden-based Tripbirds, a new travel service which taps into the social graph of Facebook and check-ins for travel advice.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Tripbirds is a travel startup in Stockholm, Sweden. We currently have seven people on the team.
My name is Ted Valentin, and I'm one of three co-founders. Prior to Tripbirds I built a network of user generated review sites in Sweden where visitors can rate restaurants, hotels, cafés and more.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
I cannot comment at the moment.
What problem are you trying to solve?
The main problem is it's hard to trust existing reviews sites, like Tripadvisor. Old-school review sites attract a lot of fake reviews, and there are even companies helping venue owners with "review optimization" on Tripadvisor.
For users, it's hard to know which reviews you can trust. The solution is turning to your friends for trip related advice, just like people do in the offline world.
Describe the business, core products and services?
You use Tripbirds to get travel recommendations from friends. If you're going to Barcelona, for example, you can see which of your friends have been there, which friends live there, and much more.
We collect data about your friends from Facebook, Foursquare, Gowalla and Instagram. The service hasn't launched yet, but you can sign up for the private beta. When you do, we give you some quite advanced statistics about your friends trips.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Since Tripbirds is built on top of checkins from other services, it helps if you understand the concept of checkins. If you a lot of friends that travel, that's another big bonus.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We're doing user testing as we go along. It's obviously a continous process.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
The business is built on some straightforward and proven revenue models in the travel space, where we have experience from previous sites.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- We have a great, very technical, team.
- We're quite reliant on Facebook, and people's trust in Facebook.
- Travel is one of the biggest markets on the internet. I also think the timing for this is quite right.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- As you all know there are many new entrants in the social travel space. The biggest threat is probably some awesome startup that hasn't launched yet.
We have pitched to some people who are not active on Facebook, and they don't always get it.
One big challenge for us is creating a service that mostly anybody can use, not only tech-savvy people with lots of traveling friends.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
We're aiming for a million users. There are social sites and apps have have reached a million users in a very short time in many different areas; jobs, deals, gifts, games, photos etc.
By piggybacking on existing social sites like Facebook, growth can happen quickly. But it still hasn't happened in travel. It will, though.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.