TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring France-based MobilyTrip, a multi-media trip and experience sharing platform for mobile devices.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
My name is BenoÃ®t Le Ny, founder of MobilyTrip. I am 31, graduated from Ecole Polytechnique and ENSTelecom Paris in 2004 . I worked for four years at General Electric Healthcare, then for two years at reverso.net, before starting MobilyTrip end of 2010.
I am a passionate traveler (in particular in South America) and while traveling, I realized there is a lack of good tools for people to keep their trip memories alive, and to share them with their friends and family.
On my way I met two entrepreneurs, Alexandre Larribeau and Matthieu Godon, who launched ALKEO, a mobile development startup, and we decided to work together on MobilyTrip to make a product people would love to use when traveling.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
Love money. I had the opportunity to find people in my circles who really liked the idea and wanted to be a part of it. Now we have hundreds of travelers using it, more than 50 thousand photos and really good reviews. We are currently looking for new investors for our next round.
What problem are you trying to solve?
First, helping people remember their trips. Currently, most people take pictures while traveling, and only put them into a folder of their computer when they come home.
Remembering where exactly a photo was shot, and above all, in what context, is generally lost after a few months. With MobilyTrip, they can reopen a trip done many years before and see exactly what they’ve done, where, when and how.
Second, help people communicate about their trips. Currently, most people send an email with a few photos, or post them on Facebook, but it does not reflect what they are really experiencing. When they come back home and want to share all their photos with friends, one by one, everyone gets bored quickly. With MobilyTrip, people can show their path, the places they visited, they can share their feelings… and have people following them, during their trip and after.
Finally, make people contribute to travel knowledge. If you have friends that went to Japan a few months ago and ask them what places they’d recommend, they can give you some advice but generally not the exact spots, and how to reach them.
With MobilyTrip, they just have to show you their journal and you’ll be able to navigate around, see the exact locations on a map, related photos and comments, ratings. More generally, you can follow people you don’t know in person, and identify good spots in other travelers’ journals.
Describe the business, core products and services?
MobilyTrip starts with a mobile application which allows you to annotate important things along your trip: record your path in continuous mode, add places, enrich them with photos and comments. Everything works offline (remember GPS is free, everywhere in the world).
And when you get an internet connection, you can synchronize your data in one click with the server, so anyone following you can get your updates.
In addition, the mobile app it contains 100 free travels guides for the major cities in the world, I recommend you to check them out! And many more are being prepared. For now, we have an iPhone version and the Android one is coming soon.
MobilyTrip is also a website: it allows people to review other people’s journals, comment them and get inspiration for their next trips. And authors can experience again their own trips, anytime.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
We do not target a specific profile. MobilyTrip is a new way to communicate while traveling; we give this tool to travelers and let them use it during their weekends, longer trips or even world tours. We have business trips, leisure trips, honeymoons and even an on the road truck driver in the US!
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Our first travelers recorded their path with a GPS device (QStarz), and the website found the location of the photos through their timestamp. But it required users to document their trip when they came back home (which takes a long time) and it did not allow them to share their trip in real time.
Now everything is done on mobile, it’s fun, easy to use, effortless and immediate. Our investors were among these people. They were, and still are, our best beta testers!
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
We offer a free mobile application and free data storage, in exchange our users provide us with structured information about their trips that we can process. Our business comes from the result of that processing, by providing travel guides that we can update in real time.
We believe that there is a lot of travel content about many destinations on the web, but not enough structured content that you can easily browse.
SWOT analysis â€“ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- People like the concept, and are easy to convert into active users when they have an iPhone and know about MobilyTrip.
- Our service is probably the most robust and ergonomic tool to record your travels, and provides an amazing user interface online to look at your travel memories and share them.
- Our team is strong: we have senior web and mobile developers, both on iPhone and Android (the Android version will be available soon).
- The main weakness is probably the fact that people cannot use this kind of app everyday since they are not always on holiday. But you can do very nice travel journals on weekends, too.
- The tourism market is huge, and travelers obviously miss mobile tools: they communicate a lot in their daily life but when they’re abroad, it’s a black out.
- Travel industry’s big players are still mainly web-based, not really mobile. This can be a threat, or an opportunity!
Who advised you your idea isnâ€™t going to be successful and why didnâ€™t you listen to them?
Most people admit that there is a need for people to organize their travel memories, and to share them. Some people might not see the need but those people generally don’t travel often.
Then, it’s a question of implementation: we really focus on building the best product, and if we can do that and getting known for that, the idea will be successful!
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
We’re currently focusing on user experience. We analyze how people use our app, and made several major updates since we launched in July 2011.
Now we are confident that you can record a trip for several months with hundreds of photos seamlessly. As for the website, we’ll make it more social in the coming month, with the possibility to see other travelers’ trips. In the coming year, it’s all going to be about getting users, and making them happy.
We aim at getting more than 10,000 trips after one year.