Today HipGeo, the trip journal app for iPhone and iPad, adds a tool that lets users record travel video and automatically geo-locate these video clips on maps and timelines, which can be shared on social networks like Facebook.
Call it SocialcamTumblrFoursquare. Or maybe “geo-casting” with a side of “mapamation.”
HipGeo aims to solve the problem of “digital media overwhelm” that faces many travelers when they return from a trip. A traveler can quickly rack up hundreds of photos and dozens of videos on a single trip, but it can take a long time to edit and organize these visual mementos for sharing.
HipGeo aims to do the homework for travelers by automatically plotting images, text, and now video in two main formats: map and newsfeed.
Users can be selective about what they share. Imagine that you don’t want to let your personal trainer see that you made a pit stop at an In-and-Out Burger while road-tripping down the Pacific Highway 1 in California. Simply make that post private.
HipGeo anticipates making commissions from local advertising for activities, restaurants, and lodging by geo-targeting recommendations on-the-fly to young travelers via their mobile devices. The app will know a user is in, say, Barcelona at a particular hour of the day, and could eventually push relevant, promoted recommendations to that user.
Local weekend trips are also a promising market, giving that they’re taken more often than long-distance trips. Says company co-founder Rich Rygg:
“Whenever people are taking photos of what theyâ€™re seeing, we can provide targeted local suggestions of what theyâ€™re seeing. Similar to Foursquare in suggesting what to see. The vast majority of all ads are local, and we hope to tap into that, which we see would be a service to our users.”
On the marketing side, the company has partnered with Sabre to have that company’s travel agents recommend that clients use HipGeo, such as by including a link to download the app in booking confirmation emails.
The company hasn’t revealed yet its number of user downloads. But it says a sizeable number of its users live outside of North America.
Filling the Facebook gap
Rygg says his app works as a supplement to Facebook, offering a dynamic recap of places, routes and photos in animated displays that Facebook doesn’t offer on its own.
Users can easily share what’s recorded as video or photo via HipGeo to selected lists of Facebook friends. Users can also share trip details in real time via SMS, email, Twitter, and by push notifications to selected other app users.
“Facebook’s Timeline is so barebones, it leaves a huge gap in how it helps users share travel memories with friends. It’s created a complex one-off system, so you can share a set of photos or a video but not an integrated trip journal that has a narrative.
Iâ€™m not worried about Facebook developing a similar product to ours. If you look at check-ins, it looked like Foursquare would be threatned and Dennis Crowley should have taken the buy-out offer from Facebook. Now heâ€™s got 15 million users, and Facebook has nearly abandoned check-ins.
I think the analogy holds for HipGeo and many other travel companies. There’s an under-exploited opportunity for third-party developers to build products that are the equivalent of apps that plug gaps in Facebook’s functionality..”
Monetizing mobile travel
HipGeo, based in Los Angeles, debuts this video capability to its app less than a year after having launched its location-aware platform in the Apple App Store.
In April, HipGeo received $500,000 in funding from Morado Venture Partners, the seed fund of the “original Yahoo gangsters” Ash Patel and Michael Marquez, eHarmonyâ€™s Galen Buckwalter, and San Diego angel investor Bob Bingham.
Other investors include Galen Buckwalter, former chief scientist of eHarmony, San Diego-based angel investor Robert Bingham, and an unnamed former executive at Disney.
Run by former Yahoo execs Scott Daniel, Jeff Kunzelman and Rich Rygg, the company has three other staffers plus an intern.