So what happened in the intervening 12 months?
CruiseLabs is making money. However, as is the case with most young companies, we are proficient at spending more money than we make.
What has been the biggest problem – building the product/service or marketing it to consumers/travel industry?
Building the cruise product is certainly the tougher than marketing it. Cruise is very content-intensive.
For the NexWav Cruise Booking Engine, we opted to create the content rather than license it.
Creating in-depth content for over 100 cruise ships and 175 cruise destinations is a monumental task â€“ it has taken more people to create the content than it has the booking engine itself. However, we are confident that we made the right decision with respect to creating the content.
Biggest assumption in the business plan that was wrong?
Business Plan v1.0 assumed that the world would embrace an e-commerce application based on a browser plug-in technology â€“ Microsoft Silverlight.
Funny how you donâ€™t hear much about any browser plug-ins at all these daysâ€¦ thanks to Steve Jobs for pretty much killing the future of browser plug-ins!
Is your current customer base as predicted?
CruiseLabsâ€™ customer base is a whole lot larger than we predicted and growing much faster than we expected. It is a nice problem to have!
Did you achieve your 12 month goals? If not, why not?
Has the problem you were trying to solve changed?
The problem has not changed, but, our understanding of the un-met market needs has definitely matured.
We regularly discover un-met needs that can be monetized â€“ in several cases, like DeckPlanGenius.com (a site with advice on over 83,000 cruise ship cabins), we have acted upon them because they are aligned with our overall business strategy.
Tied-in with our larger than expected customer base, the Google Analytics-type keywords that people find your content by are remarkably insightful. The keyword data has definitely influenced our product in being more responsive to the market.
Which startup that has launched in the past 12 months did you think “Ah, wish we had done that!”?
We might have taken the name Hipmunk â€“ donâ€™t know if we want their business, but, the name is definitely something we would have liked! All kidding aside, we are passionate about the cruise technology industry and wouldnâ€™t want to be doing anything any different.
If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?
First, I would tell myself that spending $10,000 on the PhoCusWright Travel Innovation Summit is a great call â€“ if you present your business well, it can be a game changer!
The exposure and business development pipeline that CruiseLabs came away with on a runner-up finish at the 2010 Travel Innovation Summit was nothing short of exceptional.
Second, I would tell myself the winning numbers to last weeks Powerball lottery!
NB: Tnooz launched TLab Showcase in March 2010, a dedicated channel to give startups in the travel, tourism and hospitality sector an opportunity to explain their vision, company background and strategy to a wider audience.
As well as publishing an elevator pitch-type questionnaire for each business, Tnooz committed to following up with each startup after 12 months or so to see how well (or not) each performed.