We had an interesting chat with Ms. “Irma Stastova”, Marketing and Sales Manager of the Nevada- USA based start-up “Fripito”
Below is the interview we conducted with her:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
Fripito is an application (for smartphones and tablets) providing up-to-date travel guides with practical information about destination, interesting places to see and as a special bonus amazing photos with photo tips.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
In November 2013 in Nevada (US) but our roots are in Prague (CZ). From March till May 2014 we ran a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds to strength our team. The version for iPhone and iPad is ready.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
The application will be free and available in AppStore and Google Play. Every single guide can be purchased within our application based on its content. We will offer two types of guides, inspiration and photo guide. The price of guides will range from $ 3 up to $ 15 .
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
The original idea came from Jan Brezina, founder of Fripito. Jan is photographer, videocaster, mentor and traveler, Apple CT, Apple Certified PRO and Adobe Certified Expert. The core team has 2 other members – Irma (marketing and sales, and programmer, Jan’s friend. The large team will be composed of many other photographers and travelers.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
There is now other application right now on the market like Fripito. Other apps for travelers offer maps, or city guides or limited travel guides for ex. in US national parks. The apps for photographers offer only editing options. No other app provides such a wide offer of international travel guides focused on nature and photography including the personal tips and advices. This all in one place with regular updates for a fraction of prices of printed guides.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
We have the RC1 version of our app and we are ready to launch in August. We found an investor who provided the money for the operation of the application, hiring of other photographers, translation to other languages and marketing (+ we have the funds from Indiegogo campaign). After tuning all the details for the iOS and resolution of all errors we hired an Android programmer who is preparing the Android app based on the Apple one but adapted to Android users.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
We do not have a real competitor yet. We provide interactive maps for the destinations, the practical info (how to get there, accommodation etc.) as traditional printed guides do. The competitors in printed version are offering information about historical monuments, museums, complete history etc. (for ex Lonely Planet) But these printed guides do not offer the photo experienced advices and tips and do not offer the “light” traveling.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
The set up the company in Nevada was our first big goal to be done. Jan is an experienced european business man but US rules and regulations was new field for us. The second obstacle was the communication of our Indiegogo campaign to general public. We are skilled photographers and programmers but we had to learn how to explain our idea in a simple way.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
We believe that photographers need different kind of information then regular turists. We need to know when the best light comes and from where. No metter how experienced the photographer is or how expensive camera he uses, location, time, light and camera setting change everything. Combination of smartphone with GPS, interactive offline map and other photographic knowledges could improve photos of all of us.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We offer a unique solution for travelers preferring the nature beauty, who like to travel in a different way and who like to photograph and would like to do more professional photos on their trips. The guides will be available in one store (one app), and as a lot of people have a smartphone, the guides will be always handy. No more heavy books.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
We plan to enlarge our cooperation with other traveler applications and to link our application with others offering flight booking, hotels, restaurants etc.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
We wanted to be independent in the development of our application and we wanted to fulfill our vision. We want to create a large network of like-minded people who love traveling and photography.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
We learned that every idea needs to be explained in the right way. Never underestimate donators, investors, journalists or enthusiastic friends. They will help much more if they understand the idea in wide angle. And we need to enlarge our press/blogs/online magazines contact network in other countries.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
We still learn to communicate our service, attract medias and spread the word. We would like to use the community marketing and to benefit of the help of active photographers to let others know about our app. This will be the biggest challenge for us.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
The benefit for the user is to find every necessary info about the destination in one places and to learn in practical way how to make better photographs. The guides are available 24h/7days in electronic version and do not burden the traveler with extra load – smart traveling.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
We have contacts on general press for PR, tech and photo online magazines, support of local cellular provider T-mobile, we have a social media network – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest account (+ personal SM accounts)
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Targeted users: Young people (age 18 – 50 y.) all around the world who prefer to be independent, traveling on their own, avid photographers using smartphones to get informations, to organize their life, entertainment or travel. The world is now very “pictures and photos” oriented so even people using their smartphones will get the inspiration for their travel (some guides will be “by smartphone” only but still with the tips).
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Every traveler who didn’t dare to organize his travel yet but would like to try, every amateur photographer who would like to get better picture and has not the right technical information in the destination.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
We are still in development phase of our app but we have response from beta testers which love unique photo tips, interactive map working offline and awesome photos in app. They appreciate fast and reliable response of our app in field when they are looking for near place by spot for next picture.
20. How are you going to scale?
We are adding new photo guides every week and translating the content to new languages. We would like to localize a source of knowledge for every photographer anywhere. Each of advanced photographers with local knowledge could join our team and monetize pictures and tips he knows. There is huge potential for social impact and fast grow.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
We have testers worldwide and they are asking to join their favorite photographers and locations in our coverage. We are at the very beginning and the team is still growing to satisfy all requests.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
In August the app will be in AppStore for CZ users and in September 2014 in international AppStore and in Google Play for all users of iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones and tablets.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
There are millions of people worldwide using their camera and traveling somewhere. We would like to offer to each of them handy guide, great tool to prepare unique photo trip and find the best places in their location.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We have hired the new Android programmer, and we are constantly looking for new travelers and photographers. We are hiring right now the translators. Every info can be found on our website www.fripito.com or our social network (FB, TW, Instagram)
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We are self-sustainable for the first year. Then we will look for new money sources to speed up our grow. If anyone would like support our effort, all contact information are at www.fripito.com.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Do what you are the best in. Are you skilled in any area, do it, use your know-how and build a project. For all other work hire someone who is the experienced guy for area you don’t know well. Build your team or use external sources to have right person for each task you need and stay focused! Do not abandon your first and simple idea!
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?:
No Thank you Bob for this opportunity to present Fripito project.