We had an interesting chat with Ms. “Pamela Fisher”, Co-Founder of the US based start-up “New2NYTours”
Below is the interview we conducted with her:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
I am a certified tour guide in NYC and offer my guests “outside the box, off the beaten path” walking tours to see how the coals live in NYC. we do not see the typical tourist attractions, but instead go to the heart of each neighborhood and talk about the culture, the food, and the people that make NYC so unique.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
It was started in June 2014. I have hired some people to help with social media and promotions, but as of now it is just a one man band- ME. I am at the stage where I am giving tours, but not every day. I would like to do 3 tours a week and weekend tours as well.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
NYC can be extremely intimidating and there are many ways you can get lost. Our company does not give a boring history lesson. We show guests around NYC with a personal touch. We are here to be more intimate with small groups, so everyone gets to know each other and make new friends.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
We do not have a team. I started 5 months ago At this point I don’t have enough money to hire a team. I would like a team down the line. I am only hiring companies that can help promote my business. Right now it’s just me.
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?
I give people an inside look at NYC and explore things they never knew. Even Native NYers enjoy my tours because although it is not a history lesson, I am always sharing tie bits of the city that no one seems to know about. It’s great to see their eyes light up when I show them places they have seem before and they lived in NYC their whole lives.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
I am looking to get the word out there through Social media and SEO and eventually hire another tour guide. I would like to expand to other cites around the US and perhaps one day even have hired help to do these “personal local way of life” tours in cities around the world.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
There are MANY different types of tours in NYC. Viator.com, Free walking tours of NYC, and NYCGo just to name a few. I am selling myself and my unique friendly personality and sharing my stories of growing up in NYC and learning about others. I stay in contact with my guests and sometimes we even go out for lunch and dinner.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
It’s very competitive out there. Right now I am a nobody, but if I get a few people on my tours, they have been helping me spread the word. My biggest obstacle is money. I do not have an investor nor do I have a partner, and I can’t do all this fancy marketing and advertising. I wish I did not have such a small budget where I have to watch every penny day to day. I have such a passion for this company and I would love to see it succeed, but unfortunately, the money is starting to run out
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
NOT everyone can just be a tour hide. There is a NY certification test and it’s not easy! You have to study, read the required books, and be skilled. You also have a great demeanor and patient personality.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
I believe in myself and I am extremely passionate. I have friends and family that are supporting me and I put 110% of my efforts into making something happen every day, 7 days a week!
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
I would like to host more charity events. I cook for low income communities in the Bronx through City Harvest and I would like some more time to be involved with fighting hunger.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
I am obsessed with NYC to the point that my friends who live in NYC tell me to stop talking. I know some secrets about NYC that people are surprised to hear. It’s fun educating people and seeing how interested they are, even the jaded NYC native!
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
It is harder than I thought! I thought in like 5 months I would be making money on my tours, but it is hard to find people to sign up because the company is so new and I am doing everything on my own. It’s also a lot about word of mouth and doing something outrageous to make people stop and stare!
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
I am hoping my biggest problem is that I will have too many people signed up for tours not enough tour guides. Also I have to come up with more creative tours that haven’t been done before!! It seems like all my thoughtfully planned out ideas are published a week later on Thrillist.com or on another top ten site.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
Learning new things about NY and making new friends. It can be intimidating if you are just moving to NYC for work and don’t have any friends yet. It’s a unique adventure and anyone can join us.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Social Media, Twitter, Facebook, Meetup groups, I am working on doing some SEO now, but since I am a brand new company with a small budget, its been hard to get the word out there.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
I have some international people coming on my tours, students, and mostly NYers and want to learn something New or explore other neighborhoods besides the one they live in.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
I started a Meetup group and have been networking a lot with other groups. I am part of the Tour Guide Association of NYC, so I have been introducing myself to the experienced tours guides asking them to help out and spread the word about New 2 Ny Tours. It’s all NEW to me and its all NEW to my guests
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
At the end of our tours they are extremely impressed. “It’s fun and different than any other tour” they tell me. They always say they learned something new, so that’s when I know I did my job.
20. How are you going to scale?
At this time, I don’t have many operating costs. I’m just paying for my website, networking activities, SEO, and other forms of marketing. My neighborhood tours are $50 (3 hours includes lunch) and my specialty tours are $25 (2 hours). If my tours become more popular I will adjust to price accordingly. The tour business is not going to make me rich, but I LOVE what I do and I love that I make other people happy with my work!
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
I was thinking about giving a little NYC survivor kit with important take away gifts you will need when living or visiting NYC. I am going to look for sponsors and maybe throw a few parties at the restaurants I work with.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
For now, I am great with doing tours of NYC. I do a tour of Astoria, but if I ever grow large enough I would like to hire people to give a tour of each borough on NY.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
I want to get as big as victor.com That’s my dream, but starting with a small goal, I would like to build my meetup group list and my newsletter emails and connect with each and every person I meet on my tours. It’s all about great customer service, so they will spread to word to their network of friends and it will grow by word of mouth.
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?
Unfortunately, I cannot afford to hire someone at this moment right now. I do not have any positions available, but always looking to hire an intelligent, reputable SEO company.
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?
I would like to find a partner to do the marketing, sales, and the business aspect. It would be great to have some more money to create nice marketing materials, even a better logo.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Don’t just throw your ideas to a wall and hope they stick. You need a plan of action and set goals. Start with small goals so you feel good about achieving them and then grow from there. Rome was not built in a day!
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
I think my toughest challenge is the money. Everyone I meet tells me wow, this idea has not den done before, it will be GREAT! Words sound nice, but the reality is that I’m running out of money. I do NOT want to put this idea on hold. I want to go full force and make this happen!!