Sightseek is a photo- and video-first approach to sharing travel stories. Users create a story of their latest trip with a single tap, then browse a TikTok-style feed or explore a map to find trip inspiration.
Founded in February of this year, Sightseek is explicitly targeting millennials and Gen Z with its travel marketplace.
What is your 30-second pitch to investors?
Sightseek is building the next-generation travel marketplace for millennials and Gen Z, starting with social discovery. We’re shaking up the decades-old online travel industry by providing a new lens - authentic stories from people you know and trust.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
Sightseek is a photo- and video-first approach to sharing travel stories. Users create a story of their latest trip with a single tap, then browse our TikTok-style feed or explore a map view to find inspiration for their next trip.
Our iOS app is currently live in the Apple App Store and we plan to launch Android in early 2021.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
- Strengths: We are experts in consumer technology - from product UX and development to growth and marketing. We build and iterate quickly, incorporating user feedback at every step.
- Weaknesses: Our team is small right now, but we’re working on that.
- Opportunities: By focusing on both sharing and discovery, we learn a lot about how a user likes to travel. This enables us to connect them with content from people who travel like them in addition to people they already know, something no one else can do.
- Threats: The relative infrequency of travel and staying top of mind. We’ve managed to counter this effect so far (users average multiple sessions per week), but it will always be a consideration when we design new features.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
Online travel research tools are outdated and broken, full of generic top 10 lists and spammy, fake reviews. Ninety percent of millennials and Gen Z say they want to hear from someone they know who’s been to the destination before booking, but today’s options don’t provide good access to discovering that content.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
We currently acquire users organically through Instagram, partnerships with micro-influencers and destination marketing organizations. We also have two separate viral marketing campaigns in the works that will leverage network referrals and gamification.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
We’ve interviewed hundreds of users in our initial target demographic of 25- to 35-year-old millennials. Millennials are the “experience generation” - they travel more and spend more on travel than previous generations. The market is enormous; there are 200 million millennials taking 320 million international trips a year, and they’re spending $200 billion per year on travel.
How and when will you make money?
We believe there’s a lot of value in authentic stories from people who have actually been to a destination, and we want to unlock revenue opportunities for people creating that content.
We’re building a marketplace for travel expertise, where users can buy premium stories or services from experts. We call this model the “gig economy for travel advisors.” Additionally, users will be able to convert the inspiration and expert recommendations into reality by booking directly through the app.
Right now we’re focused on rapidly acquiring users and content, but we’ll start monetization next year.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
We each have nearly 10 years experience in building mobile tech. Co-founder and CEO Anna Fuller's last role was as a product manager at Google. She owned the Google Shopping app and launched a personalized home feed to millions of users around the world. Prior to that, she was director of product for a venture-backed startup. Co-founder Logan Anderson’s last role was head of mobile engineering at Cruise, where he scaled the mobile team from zero to 30. Prior to that, he was an early employee at Sidecar and helped grow the company through a successful exit.
Over our careers, we’ve built apps for major travel brands like Hilton, retailers like Crate&Barrel and consumer brands like Hasbro. Our work has been featured in the App Store, Techcrunch, The New York Times and Good Morning America.
How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?
Diversity and inclusion are incredibly important to us as we build and scale our business. Our founding team is 50% female. We’ve managed to engage with diverse talent amongst the contractors we’ve hired, and we’re already developing a pipeline for diversity when we hire full-time employees. We also strive to include a diverse range of creators in our marketing and engagement, which you can see with our recent #ExploreSafely campaign.
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
Starting a company is certainly a rollercoaster ride, especially during a pandemic when we’re both working remotely! Thankfully we’ve been able to communicate well through tools like Slack and Zoom, and we have a strong, supportive community in the tech startup ecosystem.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
Partly market timing, partly a new approach to user acquisition.
On the market timing side, many in travel have had a tough ride in the past six months because of COVID-19. However, we’ve been able to connect with users during the pandemic when most others are sitting on the sidelines through our #ExploreSafely campaign and a focus on local adventures.
On the user acquisition side, our focus is primarily on viral organic growth versus paid ads and SEO/SEM.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?
A coronavirus vaccine will be making its way across the world. Travel will be surging as pent-up consumer demand is unleashed. Sightseek will be the first place users turn to find authentic content about their destination.
What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)
We aim to help millions of people around the world enjoy the benefits of travel and exploration, and we won’t stop until we’re the top destination for travel discovery on the internet.
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