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Zamp.co: A Mobile Location-Based Service that Allows Travelers to Discover and Connect

http://www.zamp.co

Zamp is a mobile location-based service that allows travelers to discover who is around and connect with them in real-time.

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We had an in-depth interview with Mr. Sam Zebarjadi, the Co-Founder of the US(Atlanta)-based start-up company “Zamp.co”.

Zamp is a mobile location-based service that allows travelers to discover who’s around and connect with them in real-time.

Travelers use Zamp to share/receive relevant tips to and from others, arrange meetups, coordinate ride sharing, and brag about where they’ve been and where they’re going. They also can map and track their stats and travel activity, including miles traveled, top routes and airports and favorite airlines.

Zamp also allows service providers to receive immediate immediate and valuable feedback from their most important and influential customers.

On average, people spend over 1 billion hours a year just waiting at airports–and that’s in the US alone. Zamp is setting out to make that time more useful by connecting people and helping them get more out of their travel experience. Ultimately, Zamp will connect service providers, brands, and stores within the context of airports and hotels with travelers, and provide them with tailored deals.

Below, you will find the very interesting interview that we have conducted with Mr. Zebarjadi:

1. What is it exactly that you do and what “Zamp.co” is all about?

Zamp is all about making travel more social as it happens and providing users with an avenue to discover and connect with others in real-time, interact with service providers and brands within the context of travel, and to share and receive relevant tips and expert advice to and from other travelers.   Zamp also features a travel dashboard that allows users to track and map their travels and statistics, and share this information with others.

2. What stage is “Zamp.co” at?

The company is currently in early-stage/growth mode.  The product was officially launched at SXSW in March 2012, and the emphasis is currently on continued user acquisition and the evolution of the product with new features.

3. What is “Zamp.co” business model and how does it work?

At the core, Zamp is truly a data company.  There is a lot of real value which travelers, travel providers, and advertisers can take advantage of.  Primarily for users, it is all about providing them with relevant contextual content with the goal of making their travel more affordable, efficient, and enjoyable, and even rewarding them with perks, discounts, or other rewards for completing travel.  We are in discussions with a few potential partners and currently evaluating a few different business models that could effectively use this data.

4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?

Zamp’s co-founders, Sam Zebarjadi and Nafis Zebarjadi, are siblings and have worked on several ventures together in the past.  While both are technical and contribute to the day-to-day development, maintenance, and evolution of the service, Nafis could be considered the hacker of the crew while Sam wears the hustler hat.

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?

Many existing services focus on travel before or after it takes place—perhaps helping with planning a trip or reviewing the trip details or specifics for others to see later.

 6. What is your growth like? and what milestones has “Zamp.co” achieved so far?

We’ve experienced great growth since launching at South-by-Southwest in March and have seen user acquisition in over 50 countries.  We were really excited to have also launched a partnership with the Frequent Flyer Network, whose properties enjoy over 1m unique monthly users.

7. Who are your competitors?

We consider Uppward and Gate Guru to be our direct competition as their apps pertain to travel.  Foursquare could also be considered an indirect competitor as they are a big player in the location-based networking space.

8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?

The biggest obstacle has been the fact that we based in Atlanta, which isn’t regarded as a startup hub.  Access to funding resources and advisors is more difficult than areas like Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston.  There are groups such as Venture Atlanta who do a great job of coordinating meetups and events with a focus to drive more innovation and change in-region, and we are embedding ourselves closely with them.

 9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?

Most people think that the need for travel services is only as it pertains to travel booking or travel ratings, and that the number of daily travelers is decreasing rapidly.  The reality is that travel actually continues to grow despite the economic uncertainty, and there are currently over 3 million daily flyers worldwide, and this number is increasing on a daily basis. These travelers have different demands and needs and that is where a lot of opportunity is opening up.

 10. Why are you going to succeed?

We feel that we have all the key ingredients that make up the recipe for  success, which first and foremost starts with our core team and our extremely bright advisors.

11. If “Zamp.co” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?

We are looking at all aspects of travel that go beyond air travel and would include hotels and rail travel and would have greater integration to service providers and advertisers.  There are some interesting business model ideas that could come with the next generation of features.

 12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “Zamp.co” based on?

Having ourselves been road warriors, we spent a significant amount of time idle in transit at airports and often found it difficult to make the most of that time.  After some research, we found that people spent 1 billion hours a year sitting and waiting at airports—and that’s just in the US alone.  We wanted to create something that would solve a problem that we had and we knew fellow travelers, whether frequent or casual, would enjoy and use.

13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?

We’ve learned just how encouraging and helpful the startup community can be, and how many great resources are available (such as Startup America).

14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?

We’re hoping to face the challenge of having to scale to support a very large number of users!

 15. What’s the benefit for the user?

Travel can be a lonely or unfamiliar experience for many.  For others, it’s all too familiar.  Perhaps someone may be looking for a quiet place in the airport to grab a drink and get some work done—Zamp can facilitate that connection with someone to provide them guest access into a lounge.  Maybe someone is interested in meeting with other likeminded individuals to grab a bite, watch a game, or discuss business, or even coordinating taxi sharing at your destination.

The other benefits include the ability to see and share real-time tips to optimize travel, such as information on parking or security lines.

 16. How did customers and/or users find out about you?

South-by-Southwest provided a great platform for us to spread word about Zamp.  A large portion of our user acquisition to-date has been through mainstream media coverage (CNN, USA Today, etc.), through our partnership with the Frequent Flyer Network, and through existing users who share their travels on Facebook and Twitter.

 17. Who are your current users? Who are your target users?

We have users across all age demographics and from all over the world.  Our target user is someone who travels and is engaged, or wishes to become engaged, in some form of online social networking.

 18. Where do new users come from and what makes new users try you?

New users are excited to try our service since it provides a means to make their travel more social, and we see a lot of users coming in from simple web searches or referrals from friends/family/co-workers.

19. What do your users say about your product and/or service?

We’re lucky to have such a great user base of diverse individuals who are all really excited about what we’re doing.  We receive positive feedback and testimonials quite frequently, and we’re grateful that our users also send us feedback on areas or features they’d like to see improved.  This helps us make sure we are iterating based on user demands.

 20. How are you going to scale?

The system has been designed in a way to accommodate for large growth and support scaling across several nodes and geographic regions.  Amazon’s EC2 makes it easier than ever to turn instances on and off and manage the entire infrastructure.

 21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers keep asking for?

Users are asking for more airport data such as terminal maps, lists of amenities, shopping and restaurants.  While we have most of this data available on the backend, we anticipate having this data likely this summer.  We are also looking to add an Android client which many are eagerly awaiting.

22. Are you going to internationalize?

We have not seen any feedback or requests come in from the user community about internationalized versions, and therefore this is not high on our priority list at the moment.

23. How big do you think you can get?

We are confident that Zamp can grow to be quite significant, however, we want to ensure that this growth is manageable and is going to be sustainable.  For us, that means focusing on the user experience, continuing to add new features and expanding our partnership portfolio.

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?

Not at this time.

 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 currently bootstrapped, but are actively seeking funding.  We can be reached at exec@zamp.co or via telephone at 650.549.4090.

 26. Finally, what advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?

Don’t give up!  Henry Ford said it best: “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.”

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