TLabs Showcase focus on startups featuring US-based GateGuru.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
GateGuru was founded by Dan Gellert and Jeff Arena. Dan was formerly a venture capitalist with Time Warner Investments and Jeff was previously a senior product manager at Yahoo!, focused on defining and executing the global product vision for Yahoo!â€™s Content Match contextual advertising platform.
For GateGuru, Dan is responsible for setting the company’s strategy and executing its operations plan for all areas of its business including partnership development, sales and marketing and corporate finance.
Jeff leads product definition and development and manages the Companyâ€™s technical partnerships. Dan and Jeff have known each other for approximately 15 years, and had often discussed co-founding a business together.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
GateGuru has been bootstrapped to date by its founders.
What problem are you trying to solve?
GateGuru was designed to fill an unmet consumer need to have a real-time, on-demand, digital source of information to vastly improve the airport experience for travelers.
Initially, the application has focused on the connecting travelers to airport retail. In this area, GateGuru enables travelers to locate, rate and review airport businesses and amenities.
Describe the business, core products and services?
The main product for the xompany is its mobile application called GateGuru. GateGuru is the leading in-airport resource for travelers. GateGuru is location aware – when a user opens the application, the closest airport is identified.
A user can select that airport or choose from a list of 100 airports. Â Once the airport and terminal are selected, a user sees all the available amenities, including location, category and average rating from fellow travelers.
Once the user chooses an amenity, a more detailed overview of that selection can be seen, including ratings and reviews from fellow travelers as well as photos. The app also includes maps of the various airports and terminals.
Since the appâ€™s release, there have been over 15,000 reviews and 2,500 photos submitted via the application. The end result is a living, breathing platform that â€śelevatesâ€ť the travel experience and reaches a core audience of business travelers and high-end leisure travelers.
The current version of the application is available on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices, and is offered through Appleâ€™s iTunes App Store. The Company plans to launch versions of the GateGuru for additional technology platforms, including Blackberry (Research in Motion) and Android (Google), in 2010.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
We currently have over 150,000 downloads of our application. Additionally, through various distribution deals, the GateGuru data is in front of more than 1.5 million travelers. Â We also have partnerships with major brands including Kayak, JetBlue, Westfield, The Paradies Shops, InMotion Entertainment, Xpresspa and many others.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Customers have quickly validated our idea â€“ since we donâ€™t have investors, this was not necessary.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
GateGuru is a free application. The primary business model for GateGuru currently is working with airport retailers to drive users into stores (ie location-based advertising). We are currently working with ten of the largest airport retailers on a pilot program, giving exclusive deals to GateGuru users.
Despite only launching two weeks ago, the pilot program to date has been a smashing success.
We are also working with larger brands on a sponsorship basis. Right now, JetBlue is running a very innovative contest whereby the leaders of the GateGuru leaderboard get free tickets (on a national level) or $100 travel certificates (on a regional level).
The contest has been a huge hit, as we have seen engagement (which was already strong) go through the roof.
We are also licensing our database to various travel applications and have seen strong demand in this area, as people have come to see us as having the most accurate and up to date structured data set on airport retail.
The reason for this is we have our users constantly adding and updating airport amenities â€“ many times we have a more accurate picture than the actual airport of the recently opened or closed retailers.
SWOT analysis â€“ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Most accurate and up to date database of airport amenities and by far the most scale out of any app focusing on airports (closest competitor, Airport Maps, has 20k downloads). Great relationships with airports, over 15,000 reviews of airport amenities, featured in Apple commercial and Apple print ad, and strong, recognizable brand name.
- Resources â€“ cannot respond to all incoming inquiries because we need to staff up. As a result of our resource constraints, we cannot be as proactive as we would like.
- New platforms, more features.
- Potential for users to just use an airline app, iTravel (unclear exactly what this is)
Who advised you your idea isn’t going to be successful and why didn’t you listen to them?
To date, everybody that I have chatted with GateGuru about is surprised that the idea does not already exist. When you think about it, airports are a unique space where people spend a ton of time and money, but yet rarely are they aware of their surroundings.
As a result, a tool such as GateGuru makes perfect sense. The one pushback I get about GateGuru is around how big the market is â€“ once I explain that travelers spend over $5 billion in US airports every year, people tend to get pretty excited about the idea.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Over one million users as well as several new licensees of our database. We have accomplished a lot in just over seven months, but this is just the beginning!