TLabs Showcase focus on startups featuring Spain-based mobile trip planning service Tourist Eye.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Tourist Eye is backed by two young entrepreneurs: Javier FernĂˇndez Escribano and Ariel CĂˇmus. We are both electrical and computer science engineers and we have been working together for five years.
We have both studied at Technical University of Madrid. The project behind Tourist Eye started at Illinois Institute of Technology while Javier was studying a masters degree.
He developed the idea and he managed a six people team who successfully built the first alpha version of Tourist Eye for Android devices.
When Javier came back to Madrid in 2009, Ariel decided to join the project after working several years on different companies. We started from scratch based on user feedback, trying to create something really useful for tourists.
We are based in Madrid (Spain) and we are a 4 people team focused on the technical development of the product and the user experience. Gerardo Fernandez and Diego Jimenez joined us at the end of last year.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
We started the business with our own founds and with family and friends financial backing. We are really surprised with the support weâ€™ve received from our family and friends.
It gave us the opportunity to validate the idea before talking about it with business angels and private investors.
What problem are you trying to solve?
There are many problems when you join travel, information and technology that nobody has solved until now.
Tourist really enjoy having updated information about their destination and they really love to take it into their mobiles phone. However, all this information is spread in the network and accessing it while traveling abroad can be very expensive due to roaming charges.
Tourist Eye is the perfect way to take all this information, images and maps into your mobile phone and access it even if you donâ€™t have Internet while traveling.
Tourist Eye also gives you the opportunity to share what you do while travelling. You can share the places you visit, places you discover, the photographs youâ€™ve taken and you donâ€™t need Internet at any moment.
Everything will be synchronized at your hotel or home when you can connect to the Internet.
Tourist Eye allows you to share all this information through social networks like Facebook or Twitter and it keeps a record of previous trips youâ€™ve done.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Tourist Eye is a web & iPhone & Android travel guide that help tourists to get inspired, plan their trip, share it with their friends, and discover the best places and tours on the go.
We offer mobile apps for iPhone and Android. They work completely offline: info, places, maps, GPS position, and photo and messages sharing.
On our web, tourists will be able to discover new places, plan their trips with friends, ask questions, get suggestions and comment on the trip updates from their friends and family. Tourist Eye works as a collaborative travel guide aiming to be the best open tourism database.
Everything will be synchronized automatically on the mobile, so tourists will be able to get all the information and know what’s around them without any roaming charges. They can take photos and send messages from the mobile to share on real time what they are visiting.
We are planning to open the API as well as some widgets to make our content available to other services and products through a Creative Commons License.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
We believe in global companies and we think tourism is global by nature. We are working hard to promote our apps to English and Spanish speaking users from all over the world.
While in beta, we tested it with around three hundred users from Europe and United States. We have officially launched Tourist Eye on Europe last week and we are now focused on launching the company in the United States.
Our target users are those tourists with iPhone or Android devices and any other who wants to discover new places to visit and a great tool to plan his trips.
We believe smartphones are an incredible tool for tourists to completely improve their experience, discovering the best local restaurants around them or guiding them through a new city.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We have completed two rounds of validation. In summer 2009 we tested the alpha prototype and in spring 2010 we validated the idea on the private beta with more than 300 users.
We are now focused on two main purposes: understanding how our clients use our products and getting important metrics about our business.
With that in hand, it is the moment to talk with investors in order to create a great multidisciplinary team. The market is incredible large but the competition is hard, we need to work quickly if we want to seize the opportunity.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Since tourists require a lot of services for their trips, there are many opportunities to make money offering different products and services.
Our mobile applications expand even more the business opportunities. We believe our apps are worth paying. However, we think out greatest opportunity is to create a great user community in order to improve the quality of our products.
In the next weeks, we are going to offer premium profiles for business (for example cottage houses, small hotels or restaurants) and a white label application for iPhone and Android for companies that want to give their users an added value product at the same time they earn money through a revenue share model.
Our near future strategy is focused in different advertising and transaction models such as discount coupons, flight and hotel booking, destinations promotion, business listings, etc.
SWOT analysis â€“ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Young, qualified and passionated team, innocence, low expenses, web-mobile integration, offline mode.
- First startup, not having content from all over the world.
- Global market, impressive smartphone marketâ€™s growth, users willing to share experiences.
- Big market players, difficulty to retain users, difficulty to reach critical mass.
Who advised you your idea isn’t going to be successful and why didn’t you listen to them?
We have mainly received critics from people thinking we are too young to start our own company and other who thinks we are playing in a very competitive market. However, these are both factors that make us feel even more excited about running our ownÂ company.
We think being young is an opportunity because you donâ€™t have anything to lose and you have a lot to win and learn. About the competence, we really believe nobody is doing it correctly, so the next years are going to be very interesting.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Some success metrics for the next 12 months are: reach 200k registered users, close a first investment round with investor(s) who believe(s) in our team and project, close important partnerships with market leaders (flights, hotels, coupons, etc.) and measure different business model metrics.