This is the “best suggestion on the market right now of how a travel guide is going to be in the future” – bold words from the creators of Everplaces, coming out of beta this week.
In some respects, however, the proposition from Everplaces has a familiar ring to it:
“Itâ€™s a personal travel tool that helps people remember, discover and share the most amazing places to visits. It letâ€™s you build your own lists and travel guides â€“ the way guides are going to be in the future: personally relevant, dynamic, mobile, location aware, beautiful).”
Founded by three Danes,Â Tine Thygesen (CEO for the fourth-time, second startup, previous one was sold), Angelica Vargas (designer) and Chris Kaalund, (CTO with two previous startups, one sold), Everplaces initially launched in March this year but is now out with a second version.
The company is backed byÂ Chris Persson (founder of restaurant platform Livebookings) and German online advertising duo Oliver Thylmann and Henning Lange of AdCloud and Ormigo, and has already secured Euro 100,000 from Qualcomm Ventures.
So how does Everplaces work?
In short: similar to Pinterest, but purely for mobile. Users “bookmark” or “favourite” tips, content, services, etc, in a given destination, then others can share the guides and add other content to them.
Photos can be added from an existing database on the device and the technology automatically detects the location where the images were taken, allowing the app to populate the guides with multimedia content.
The company says it has “insane potential”, primarily because it cites a $26 billion potential marketplace in travel around connecting products and services with current and new visitors to a destination.
Other brands (undisclosed) are using the technology, the company says, while mainstream revenue comes in the form of affiliate cash through travel products and booking restaurants (functionality due to be released in the next wave).
Q&A with CEO Tine Thygesen:
How is the way you are solving this problem more special or effective than previous attempts you or the market has seen before and how different do you have to be to succeed?
We focus on the individual consumer (as opposed to the brand who want to sell products) and built our product around two existing behaviours;
- itâ€™s in our DNA to ask and share tips with people we trust
- people care about trustworthy and relevant info, thatâ€™s why they keep lists and cut out articles.
Both have been very hard to do; but now weâ€™re building the product to make it really easy.
Why should people or companies use your startup?
Itâ€™s the most beautiful, easy to use mobile solution on the market.
Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?
Weâ€™re already in 90 countries and have a very strong community, so the product is growing organically.
We also focus on key cities and markets (73% of our users are in USA; Germany or Brazil). And weâ€™re urban and food focussed so many people use it every week, not just when they travel.
What other options have you considered for the business and the team if the original vision fails?
Weâ€™ll cover that if we get to there, now its full steam ahead.
What mistakes have you made in the past in business and how have you learned from them?
Between the founders weâ€™ve run six companies so weâ€™ve had a huge amount of learning already. One is that people have to feel your product, not just use it as a utility, the other is around user experience; it has to be flawless and the design needs to rock. We focus a lot on both.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another start up to help it out?
A lot of the services out there are simply not up to date with current technology and current demands from users. Specifically;
People are overwhelmed by the amount of information out there, so the challenge today isnâ€™t bringing people lots of information, but actually the opposite, itâ€™s finding methods to filter the huge amounts of info and only bring people whatâ€™s relevant to them.
This next stage is about relevance as people are increasingly unique and demand products and places that suit those tastes.
The second problem is the quality of information. People donâ€™t know where to turn for trustworthy information. Info that not tampered by sellers, out of date or irrelevant for whom they are. We help people get trustworthy advice and keep track of the best tips they get.
Everplaces has a slick interface, does all the things that it claims to do and has captured users in six short months in 90 countries around the world.
The messaging and strategy is correct, too – recognising that even with the introduction of the so-called digital graph, recommendations from a user’s social network are still “irrelevant” because that same network still may not share common interests or tastes.
The challenge, which it has already recognised, is filtering the vast quantities of data available by the graph in order to bring a user only the relevant details from the relevant people.
All good so far.
Where Everplaces might come unstuck, in some respects, is the age-old problem of getting users in the first place. Certainly having an existing (no exact numbers, unfortunately) community helps, but equally the challenge is maintaining their interest.
This is the same issue that many other social-led travel startups face: consumers just aren’t travelling enough (maybe two or three times a year at the most these days) for it to become their trusted and must-use app.
Equally there is nothing to say that Everplaces cannot become a useful (and widely-used) device, but perhaps for longer-term visitors to a destination (students, those on temporary or seasonal employment).
From the outside it looks like Everplaces and others in the same space are still finding their way around where might be the mid to long term viability in their respective products.
Certainly one (probably a few more) will emerge through the hand-holding to become a must-hav service for both residents in a destination and visitors.
Everplaces, with its solid user experience and ease of use, could be one of them.