TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based Tripsy, an iPhone application which captures images and video and turns them into a virtual passport of a trip.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Tripsy was created by two people – Ryan Kaminsky and Nav Kesher – who are passionate about using technology and their experiences to make travel more social, personal, and fun.
- Ryan has a BS and an MS in Computer Science, and an MBA in marketing from Duke University. He has worked at a number of top-notch tech and travel firms including TripAdvisor, Amazon and Microsoft and is currently a product manager at Yelp in San Francisco.
- Nav has a BS in engineering and an MBA in finance from USC. He has previously worked as a consultant and a financial analyst at US Airways and currently works in finance and business development.
Both founders are well versed in application development and although they aren’t developers at their "real" jobs, they passionately work on apps in their free time because they have ideas they want to share.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
Currently the venture is completely self-funded by the two partners.
What problem are you trying to solve?
In 2011 smartphones accounted for 27% of photos up from 17% in 2010. While the number of smartphone pictures has grown dramatically, there haven’t been significant efforts in harnessing and using the metadata contained in these photos.
The information and media is essentially "trapped" on someone’s phone and won’t be freed to tell an interesting story without significant effort on the part of the user to tag, label, group and upload images.
Tripsy frees the travel experiences trapped in the pictures and videos on someone’s iPhone, enabling the user to:
Have their stories automatically created using these pictures and videos as well as the location and timeline data attached to this media
Share travel stories with family and friends
Describe the business, core products and services?
We believe that you shouldn't have to do a lot of work to organize and share your travel stories.
Tripsy is an iPhone application that makes it easy for people to create a virtual passport of their travel experiences by unlocking the "information in their photos", which can then be used to share travel stories in new and interesting ways.
In a nutshell, Tripsy reads all the photos and videos on your iPhone, organizes and displays them by city and plots the path you travelled on a map while in that city.
All this is done automatically without any effort required by the user other than kicking off the process.
After the initial organization, people are free to further curate their travels if they like or they can begin to share their stories through email or on Facebook by creating mosaic travel postcards in just a few taps.
We are currently working on new and exciting ways to organize, storyboard and share trips--with minimum effort on the part of users. Further out, we plan to build a community around the virtual passport, postcards and travel stories and launch on more platforms.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
At official launch, our key users will be influential writers and bloggers in the world of travel and technology. This will aid in getting momentum building for the app.
However we are most excited that ANYONE who has taken photos with their iPhone will be able to use and benefit from our app.
And we truly believe they will be surprised and delighted at being able to relive their travels and the cities they’ve visited with one simple tap.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Our approach has been to quietly release the app on iTunes and gather feedback from customers, iterate and then launch a more significant marketing and partnership effort.
Thus far, the app has been very well received and there have been some common themes within the feedback that we plan to address in an update shortly.
We plan to iterate for a few more cycles before approaching investors.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
We intend to offer the app for free on various platforms starting with iOS. Our revenue will come from:
- Selling physical postcards that customers create in the app
- Selling app add-ons that allow users more options to create visually stunning and unique postcards
- Enhanced/Advanced organizational options for trips
When we build out a community of users we will explore additional revenue and profitability opportunities.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Ease of use
- Quick collection of content
- Unique organization of content
- Team – strong experience in technology and travel
- First mover advantage
- New/unknown product
- Lack of online presence
- Content collection partnerships: online travel and related sites are looking for content (TripAdvisor’s Cities I’ve Visited and Where I’ve Been, Gogobot, Google maps images)
- Expansion into social
- Partnerships with photo/postcard products
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Duplication of automatic processing model and functionality by one of a number of companies in related areas
When we first discussed the idea of Tripsy, we brainstormed its feasibility with a number of friends in the travel and tech industries.
Although most seemed excited about the idea, they ultimately chose not to work on the product, an indication of their skepticism.
Their two main arguments were that the model of creating a travel story while "in trip" is more desirable and that the app store already has a slew of apps, which, if used together, could produce the same result as Tripsy.
We strongly believed that these arguments miss out on unique insights. Our app fits in naturally with the way people most often enjoy travel.
They visit places, snap photos of enjoyable moments and don’t want to take time out to “document” what is happening in the moment. When they return to their hotel or back home, they can let Tripsy effortless build their travel stories.
We know people love an integrated experience in a single app that requires minimal effort, yet produces never-before-seen results.
Using several apps to (possibly) reproduce Tripsy requires much more effort than the average traveler will put forth.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Our short-term success metric is downloads. We would like to achieve 100,000 downloads in 2012.
Our longer term success metric is user engagement. We would like users to continually return to our app to view their trips, process new trip photos and send and share more postcards.
Measuring posts on Facebook and other social-sharing platforms will be an important metric for measuring engagement.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.