FaceBelt takes the idea of social seating on flights to mobile
TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring Hungary-based FaceBelt, a mobile social network service which allows users to see who will also be travelling on their next flight.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
FaceBelt Hungary – a company started in 2011 to develop a social networking smartphone application for fliers.
It works with any airline in the world, anywhere in the world and allows you to see who you’ll be flying with via Facebook data.
A visual seat map shows you all the other Facebook users who have checked-in and where they are sitting. You can then browse everyone’s profile on the plane if they allow it.
It even allows you to share a taxi or assist in changing seats if vacant seats are available. Now you can finally sit next to the person you want to or even move away from any person. It’s the first smartphone application of its kind.
The company is comprised of two people: John Milton (American investment banker living in Budapest) and Ferenc Galgoczy (a Hungarian who owns Hungary’s most innovative travel agency)
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
We used our own resources.
What problem are you trying to solve?
We are trying to bring airplane passengers together in a social arena by solving the lack of social networking in the sky.
This app will allow fliers to communicate and interact with each other throughout the entire flying process.
Describe the business, core products and services?
FaceBelt is all about social networking. It allows FaceBelt users to:
- see which other Facebook users are on the flight via an interactive seat map and then proceed to communicate with them
- change seats if seats are available to sit next to that interesting guy / girl, move away from that loud group of teenagers, or perhaps sit next to the person which has similar interests and preferences as you (age, occupation, etc…)
- share a taxi with other passengers
- works with any airline in the world, anywhere in the world
- the app also respects your privacy so if you do not wish to “check-in” to FaceBelt you can still browse the other passengers on the flight.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Mainly targeted to frequent fliers, and smartphone users who are also active Facebook users
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We introduced this to random people along with friends to get their opinion and once we got the consistent positive feedback then we decided to proceed.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
We plan to introduce the product to both the Apple and Android App Stores and then market it to global airline alliances.
Unfortunately at this time we do not yet wish to divulge our biz model and rev strategy
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Young and dynamic team with enough financial resources to support organic growth; extensive experience in the travel industry
- We are small at the moment and will need to expand considerably to take this to the next level
- This app has the opportunity to become THE game changer for social networking in the sky. The potential client base is over 100m users!
- Strategy implementation – we have three different strategies we are considering at the moment. And increasing competition as social networking in the sky is becoming a popular segment.
Who advised you your idea isn’t going to be successful and why didn’t you listen to them?
To be honest, nobody advised us against this
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
A minimum of one million unique downloads!
Linda Fox is deputy editor for Tnooz. For the past eight years she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine.
In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management and research companies.
Prior to her freelance career she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.