TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring Czech Republic-based Tripomatic, a trip planner and personal destination guide service.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Tripomatic is being developed by a small company based in Brno, Czech Republic. CEO and co-founder is Lukas Nevosad, 32 years old entrepreneur with background in both IT and business.
The other co-founder is his wife, Barbora. They met on business studies in Jyvaskyla, Finland in 2005 and then studied together e-commerce in Lulea, Sweden.
Together they had developed few websites, mainly for the purpose of supporting themselves during the studies. Some of the websites turned viable and nowadays they are the main source of capital for Tripomatic development.
At the moment there are 6 people working more or less full time on Tripomatic.com. People who do marketing have great experience in working with affiliate marketing, acquiring traffic using SEO and SEM and optimizing conversions.
Developers are excellent in building modern AJAX based interfaces and have experience in building scalable, cloud based applications. And most importantly, all of us travel a lot and love traveling.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
So far we are consuming own capital - personal savings and revenue generated from other websites, mainly from affiliate marketing and selling ad space.
What problem are you trying to solve?
The idea to make Tripomatic came up in fall of 2010 when we were planning our own holidays in Switzerland. There was no tool that would conveniently point out things worth seeing and help us make our travel itinerary.
Tripomatic is trying to solve just that. It provides travellers with a simple to use planning tool so that they can make the most of their trips.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Travellers can find out information about interesting sights and places at the chosen destination, plan their trips and print their personalized travel guide.
They can see the itinerary on the map to make the planning easier and less time-consuming. People can also book hotels and car rentals at their destination and add them to their travel guide.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
We focus on individual tourists ranging from backpackers to people on business trips. At the moment we are limited by the number of destinations we cover, so our marketing only focuses on those.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We have not tried to get funding yet, we can still cover current capital needs from our own investments. By the time we reach out to VCs, we want to have the business model validated.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
We want to connect people planning a trip with those providing services travellers are going to use - such as travel agents, hotels, car rentals, guided tours. We will use mostly affiliate marketing to generate revenues.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Very experienced team and financial health. Also, if our business model is proven viable, there is quite a big barrier of entry for the competition. It takes months to develop an application similar to ours and more time to create the content.
- Location - Brno is nowhere near Palo Alto.
- The number of people using the Internet for travel planning, booking flights, hotels, car rentals etc. We believe individual tourism will grow in the future and we want to take part in it. Also, having quite some traffic on our other travel websites, we see a chance to build synergy and/or traffic exchange.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- A lot of existing and future competitors. No one does exactly the same as we do but some of our competitors are very strong in content and SEO and we are going to have hard time acquiring enough organic search traffic. Besides that, there are many threats to the whole travel industry. Things like volcano ash, revolutions, diseases and other force majeure can freeze travel to standstill for weeks.
We were really confident and we have not shared the idea with many external people until few weeks prior release. So far no one brought up any meaningful objections.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
By June 2012, we want to have covered all major tourist destinations worldwide. We want to plan more than 1,000 trips daily. We want to be known by regular travellers and recommended by them to others.
And last, but not least, we will eat our hats if we do not have positive cash flow by then.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.