Tripku allows adventure travellers to plan, get social, hook up and goNewsBy Linda Fox | June 25, 2012Share This article was originally published on Running with a traditional commission model Chile-based Tripku is an application marrying trip planning for adventure travellers with social networking, itinerary sharing and finding buddies to go with.The concept, first open beta just released, comes from Beatriz Cardona and Alice Neves as well as part-timers Jesus Salgado and Shaheen Samavati and a partnership with Path11.com - a team of developers and user-experience specialists.Funding has so far been via family and two government grants and tripku also recently became a member of Start Up Chile, a government programme to encourage entrepreneurs to develop businesses in the country.Tripku's target market is the US$82 billion spent by soft adventurers with this market growing more than 20% annually but it also believes it's well placed to tap into the trend towards more challenging travel experiences.The company hopes to earn revenue by travellers booking activities and services via the site and keeping them there by providing a travel group's trip page and enabling communication with specialist operators via the page. Other potential revenue streams are in the pipeline.Q&A with co-founder Alice NevesHow is the way you are solving this problem more special or effective than previous attempts you or the market has seen before and how different do you have to be to succeed?Tripku is an app for social networks that helps adventure travellers find each other, form groups to travel together, or simply share recommendations, and even find the local tour operators that can make it happen.Previously adventure travellers could only find like-minded travellers before travelling if they were lucky enough to have friends available and willing to travel to the same place, at the same time and to do the same activities. Most of them end up resorting to the possibility of finding travel buddies in the destination, i.e. staying at the same hostel. With tripku like-minded travellers can meet before travelling, regardless of where they live, and plan the stuff they want to do in the destination together – be it mountain biking, diving, rock climbing, trekking, skydiving... they pick! Then they can get connected with the local travel providers that can make it happen. And they manage everything from their own trip page on tripku.com.Why should people or companies use your startup?Adventure travellers should use tripku because it’s the place where they can plan their trips with like-minded adventurers (current friends or new ones!) and get connected with the local travel providers that can deliver the experiences you’re dreaming about!Local adventure tour operators should use tripku as the most direct channel to reach out to their target customers. At tripku they use social media to make themselves known by customers worldwide and sell their services online – and they get it at no fixed cost.Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?We recently launched our open beta and are in the process of testing product-market fit. At the first month we didn’t invest much on ads or such. We did a soft launch with the user base we already had from our closed beta as well as our own social connections.We have started testing Facebook ads and Google AdWords. We’ve just launched a super cool campaign: travellers who set themselves up as organizers of a group trip and form a tripku group with 10 or more travellers are sponsored by tripku. This means all travel services purchased from expert tour operators through tripku.com will be for free for those organizing the group. We think it’s a really cool way of inviting more people to test tripku and help us design the best app for adventure travel groups.At the same time we are now focusing particularly on trekkers and mountaineers from the San Francisco Bay Area. We are also starting to work with bloggers and iconic professional adventurers. For instance, Edurne Pasabán, National Geographic’s alpinist of the year 2010, is an early supporter of tripku. She’s an inspiration for many adventurers and wannabe adventurers and someone we are proud to have on board for this mission.What other options have you considered for the business and the team if the original vision fails?We know the possibility of failing is part of the game but we are fully focused on accomplishing the mission we have set for ourselves. Alice says she learned how to drive in a bumpy, dusty road. Her Dad would tell her, if the driver keeps looking at the holes he/she will fall in them. You have to focus on the right path, knowing that holes are on their out-of-range sight.What mistakes have you made in the past in business and how have you learned from them?While I’m a computer engineer and Java programmer, I can’t be the number one full-time programmer developing the product. It has been hard to find a technical co-founder to join us and we decided to go ahead anyway, counting on the amazing job of the Path11 team thus far. This can be seen as a mistake or as a virtue depending on how you look at it. Along the way we have realized that it doesn’t make sense to look for a co-founder unless it is someone we already know very well and trust. So we are looking to hire a full-time Rails programmer to get this part covered. If we find that this person has the right profile to be our technical co-founder, then we talk about shares, and CTO responsibilities (knowing that the latter means different things in different stages of development of the business).What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?The problem we’re solving is that millions of adventure travellers and wannabe adventurers face the fact that adventure trips are really hard to realize. They require groups and complex planning.Imagine you love trekking and want to explore the Atlas Mountains, in Morocco. But, all of your adventure buddies are either too busy, or too broke to join you. You search online and find some organized tours. But then imagine having to stick to a rigid schedule and to travel with completely random people. With millions of adventurers in the world, why does it have to be so hard to find like-minded people who want to travel to the same place at the same time?Tnooz view: More niche social networks have been increasing in popularity so this idea for a social network application to bring adventure travellers together has potential. Existing social networks are great but really crowded, noisy and generally not very focused. As with many a start-up the downside will be getting people to trust the brand and use the application to manage the whole group trip rather than just using it for ideas and then going direct to the tour operators. If tripku manages to provide real value via the trip page, bringing like-minded people together and the swapping of knowledge and experience, it's on to something. The idea of tapping into the multi-billion dollar soft adventure travel market is a good one as consumers increasingly look further afield and for something a bit different and the potential is greater if it can also provide something for those seeking more challenging experiences.Share this quote Snap poll:[poll id="10"] NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.