TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based GuideHop, a peer-to-peer marketplace for tours and guided activities.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Weâ€™re a group of travelers, adventure-seekers, techies,Jackalope lovers, and one Pro Footballer, who are trying to open the door to alternatives from the mundane ways we are expected to explore a new place.
- Ryan Schmitz – Co-Founder / CEO – A mountain biker, traveler, and business owner whose entrepreneurial spirit and thirst for adventure are hardly distinguishable.
- Darren Woodson – Co-Founder -Three-time Super Bowl champion and five-time Pro Bowl selection. Darren joined ESPN as an NFL analyst in 2005. He appears on NFL Live and SportsCenter, as well as other ESPN platforms throughout the year.
- Jeremy Roberts – Co-Founder / CMO – Our Talent Acquisition, Human Resources, and Marketing expert single-handedly guides us through the unforgiving seas of social media and user acquisition to reel in the worldâ€™s coolest guides.
- T. Grove – CTO – As elusive as the mythical jackalope, T. Grove prefers to fly under the radar. A part of the computer underground scene for years, Mr. Grove has been played a major part in building and creating some of the coolest new technologies and websites for Fortune 500 companies.
- Clay Teller – Lead Designer – Clay is responsible for the overall look and feel of Guidehop. He can typically be found at 4am in an Austin coffee shop wearing a t-shirt with a jackalope on it.
- Aaron Bell – Aaron is Austinâ€™s Top Hop (Community Manager). He is an expert on Austinâ€™s outdoor offerings and is willing to give you the keys to his city.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
The business up until this point has been entirely self-funded.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Your hotel room should not be what you write home about. An uninspired bus tour of all the obligatory sites shouldnâ€™t be the only way you experience a city. Itâ€™s no fun burying your nose in a guide book but you donâ€™t want to waste your precious spare time on some lackluster tourist trap.
Even in your home town it can be hard to get out of a routine and explore your surroundings.
At the same time, there are tons of knowledgeable people who want to share their passions with like-minded individuals. So, how can we empower them to share and connect with the adventure-seekers out there?
Describe the business, core products and services?
GuideHop is essentially a peer to peer marketplace for tours and guided activities. Anyone with exceptional knowledge of a place or particular hobby can sign up as a guide and post their tours.
They are free to set their own price and cancelation policy, accept or decline bookings, and learn about customers through their profiles. We even give them to the tools to easily get the word out about their tours through Facebook and Twitter.
Customers browse through a range activities in their city to see which unexpected new experience will grab their interest. With photographs, videos, written descriptions, and reviews from other customers, they can get a clear sense of what theyâ€™ll be embarking on. Once they have an excursion picked out, all they have to do is request a time.
Payments are made quickly, easily, and securely online, so all thatâ€™s left to do is have a great time exploring with a nifty local guide.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Adventurous people looking for unique activities and tours that are led by independent guides and locals with expert knowledge of the location or activity.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Yes, though so far we are entirely self-funded.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
As a crowd-sourced website, our guides are our products. We are creating a fair trade platform for our guides, where it is clear what they make and what our cut is. When a tour is booked there is a 3% processing fee charged to the guide and a 10% fee charged to the consumer booking the tour.
Key to our expansion is giving guides the freedom to define what their tour experience can be. You can take a tour of Austinâ€™s famous food trucks, or learn to surf in a river. From professionals looking to break the mould to enthusiastic local experts, GuideHop has the potential to offer unlimited alternatives to boredom.
SWOT analysis â€“ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- We have a highly talented, enthusiastic team that was able to implement technology that is way ahead of our competition.
- Since the product is inherently social (guide-hopping is more fun with friends) we have already seen immense growth.
- There are nearly limitless possibilities for growth as people start to realize they can make money while sharing their fascinating little corners of the globe.
- We have yet to reach critical mass in each city.
- There is no easier way to get off the beaten track, which is what a lot of travelers are looking for.
- If a large travel company enters our space.
Who advised you your idea isn’t going to be successful and why didn’t you listen to them?
Most people have been very supportive and share our optimism about the opportunities that exist in the peer to peer activity space.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
As word spreads about the site, more guides bring their unique interests and activities to the public, and more customers realize just how easy it is to fill their spare time with new adventures. We expect bookings to increase steadily.
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