“Triposo” makes travel guides using algorithms. They crawl data from the web, apply some clever algorithms and fully automatically generate travel guides of high quality that cover the entire world.
Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. ‘Osinga’ regarding his start-up company “Triposo”;
1. What is it exactly that you do and what “Triposo” is all about?
We make smart travel guides for mobile devices. Travel guides that know who you are and where you are and use that information to come up with fresh and inspiring ideas on what to do while you travel.
Of course our guides also contain detailed descriptions of everything to see and do, places to eat and drink and offline maps.
Our apps are available for Android and iOS work offline and are 100% free to use.
2. When has “Triposo” been founded? And what stage is “Triposo” currently at?
We started in May 2011 and raised a seed round from a number of investors.
With that money we started developing the product described above.
After one year we had 1.5 million downloads of our apps and a great plan to make them even better.
In June we closed a Series A round. So currently, we are busy growing our team.
3. What is “Triposo”’s business model and how does it work?
What our app does is help people take a decision on what to do while they are travelling.
In the future we will reserve a place for commercial options, either coupon style ads or things you can book directly in the app.
We have experimented with the latter and are seeing some bookings already of people who book an experience, like a guided tour, directly from the app.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
Douwe and I are brothers, so that’s easy. Douwe and Jon met while working for Google in Sydney, on Google Wave.
When Google Wave was going to be shut down, we started thinking about travel apps and we had the idea we were on to something.
I traveled to Sydney to meet Jon and we spent a week talking, coding and making a business plan.
At the end of the week we were sure: this was what we were going to do the next years.
Our team is a real engineering team. I am the only one so far without any coding skills. That’s why I have to be the CEO…
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?
Our guides are smart. When you walk around a city with our guide you will see that the suggestions change the whole time.
Based on time, on your location, on the weather, on your personal preferences. There is no other guide out there that does that.
We can do it because we collect a lot more information about places of interest that just the description and the address.
We want to know everything. How many pictures are taken there? At what time? With all that data we can make better travel guides, smarter travel guides.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “Triposo” achieved so far?
We have been growing at a pace of over 20% per month which means we grow tenfold per year. We achieved the milestone of 1 million downloads end 2011 and 2 million downloads in May of this year.
The next big milestone will be the launch of our 2.0 app. That app wil give people great options to keep track of where they go and what they do in the app – and automatically build a travel log. It will also look a lot better on tabs and pads.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is “Triposo”’s competitive advantage over them?
Lonelyplanet and Tripadvisor are obviously competitors.
They are not really mobile companies, however, and I think that’s a bit of a problem for them.
Travel and mobile just go together so well and to take full advantage of all the possibilities this new market has to offer you need to think and act like a 100% mobile company.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
When we started Douwe and Jon were living in Australia, and I was living in the Netherlands.
We looked at a number of options and decided we wanted to be a distributed company, with people working in different places.
The tools to do this in an efficient way are all there- and we organize Jamborees every few months where we all go to one place to code and work together.
We now have an HQ in Berlin where we all come to work together, but we are still distributed.
Now that we are hiring new people this is a big advantage. We can attract talent from many places, not just Silicon Valley.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
I’m not sure there are particular things outsides don’t understand.
Everybody travels and everybody has his particular ideas on what a travel guide on a mobile device should do.
Of course we are working on this full time so we get a better overview of all the ideas and possibilities – and we have the capabilities to execute these ideas.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We have a great team. We have 3 engineers that used to work for Google in our team and they bring a lot of really great engineering experience to the table.
Secondly, we are really passionate about travel guides.
This is not just a company we are building. We are really doing something that we feel very strongly about.
11. If “Triposo” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
In the end it would be great if we could expand into local.
The suggestions we give travelers based on our algorithms will also work for locals who want to spend a weekend in their own area, or even someone who is just looking for a restaurant for a night out.
This market is huge (travel is already big, but this one is 10 times bigger). It will all depend on how good we are at predicting what you will like at a certain moment.
If we do that well, we can also do it for local.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “Triposo” based on?
We love travel. We started traveling when we were young and continue to do it as much as we can today.
Douwe has traveled to over 100 countries and I have visited over 50.
We also love technology and the way it changes the world. I think so far how travel companies have used technology is not really impressive. We can do better, we believe.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
I have learned that you should launch as fast and as often as you can. Don’t wait until your product is perfect. Just go.
Then do an update fast with all the things you wanted to do in the first place.
This allows you to get user feedback very early on – and it’s a lot better to base you decisions on how users use your product than just your own ideas.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
I think around that time we will start focusing on revenue – and it will be a whole different ball game.
I think we have some excellent ideas on how to do this (and we still have a great team) so I am sure we will do well, but we will start working with local entrepreneurs as well.
That will surely be exciting and new.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
Our guides let your get the most out of your trip. You don’t need to do much planning (you can if you like, but there is no need).
You can just set off to your destination and you know that the Triposo guide will always be in your pocket and will be able to give you the information you need and suggest cool and inspiring things to do.
16. How did customers/users find out about you?
They mostly find us in in the Appstore and in Google Play.
Our apps have pretty good ratings and reviews and that’s how they spread.
We are working on making it easier for our users to share their love for Triposo with their friends and family which will of course help us grow and reach new audiences.
17. Who are your current customers/users? Who are your target customers/users?
They are mostly young, tech savvy travelers from Europe and the US.
That’s a very big group but we believe that with our product we can reach a very broad target audience.
With the spread of smart phones we will see that we will also reach people who would not describe themselves as tech savvy.
In the end it will be a product even my mother will use.
18. Where do new customers/users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
The special thing about travel is that people only travel a few times a year. So user acquisition is an on going process.
Even if people have used your app before it’s not sure that they still remember you in a year’s time.
We are quite successful getting new customers through the Appstore and Google Play – but keeping your customers is probably even more important right now.
19. What do your customers/users say about your product and/or service?
The people that contact us are almost always very enthusiastic. They’re really happen that there is a great free app that helps them find the best travel info anywhere in the world.
They also try to help out by adding new places and sometimes contact us to ask if we can add a guide for a specific place. S
o this is one of the things we will try and make easier in the new version of our app.
20. How are you going to scale?
Our business scales really well. Actually, the more users you have the better and the more personal the guides are.
Of course we will start some marketing efforts so we can keep on growing like we do now including social and viral options in the app.
Technically, scaling has become a lot easier than it used to be.
There are so many cloud services that you can grow without being worried about many scaling issues that could be a problem before.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
I think we can improve the maps. Add subway maps, add filter options, add directions, they are all things users ask for and that are very important when you travel.
The main distinguishing feature of the apps may be the clever suggestions, but you also need to excel at giving travelers this basic information – that’s so essential when you travel.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
We’re busy expanding now! We’re also really international in many ways – but so far the content is all still English only.
And that will probably stay like this for the coming year or two.
At some point after that, we will look at other languages, German and Spanish first probably, but it will be quite a big project.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We plan to become really big. We have grown pretty fast so far and we believe that our approach will allow us to become the best travel guide. If you are the best – you should also be the biggest. So that’s our ambition.
Of course, there is a lot to be done. For now the many focus will stay on the product. There’s still a lot of room for improvement.
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?
Yes we are busy hiring some people, focussing on finding great engineers, but we also have a position as a designer open.
We have posted an ad on stackoverflow and gotten some really great candidates from there. But there’s still room for more great people.
People who want to apply can mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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 VC funded and just closed the round in June, so we are not looking for financing right now.
Partnership opportunities are always interesting for us, especially partners in the travel space that we can work together with to make our product better or get a bigger reach.
We’re not really interested in companies offering us advertising solutions we can use in the app – we get a lot of mails about those.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Go for it. Don’t spend to much time writing your business plan.
Just start doing something, in your evening hours, in the weekends.
Invite your friends to try your product, talk to everybody who wants to hear about it, ask people for help.
People like to help out and give you free advice and introductions.