TLabs Showcase – Kijubi
TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based tours and activity listing service Kijubi.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Kijubi answers the question, “What Kijubi doing?” by providing wide variety of exciting activities for people who want to have fun.
Kijubi is a recreational activities booking engine that helps people discover, research and book fun things to do for their vacations or weekend trips.
Kijubi aggregates adventures from independent activity vendors across the US. Kijubi’s founders designed the site as a comprehensive “experience marketplace” to help locals and travellers discover and book the activities that often create the most memorable moments of any trip.
Billy Fried and Kilay Reinfeld, both entrepreneurs in the travel and activities space, founded Kijubi.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
Initial funding from founders, followed by a seed angel round led by Ron LaPierre, ex-president of PriceGrabber, and Talmadge O’Neill, founder of Smarter.com.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Activity vendors are mostly small and mid-sized businesses that generally do not have the resources or knowledge to market themselves effectively online.
Kijubi provides a marketing platform with a much greater online presence, driving more business to them than they could achieve through their individual marketing efforts and providing them with greater exposure to consumers.
Consumers looking for fun things to do have had to consult multiple sources (hotel lobby pamphlets, concierges, directories) to learn about activities in any area.
This is an often-frustrating experience, as these sources are not comprehensive, omit key details and cannot actually book the activities the consumer is interested in.
Kijubi’s expansive roster of activities is loaded with helpful information like ratings and reviews, pictures, videos, and lots of details to help excite, motivate, and provide confidence to consumers in their vacation or weekend leisure choices.
Kijubi gives the consumer more choices for things to do than any other source and answers almost any question about each activity. The consumer can actually book the activity directly from the website, a one-stop shopping experience that saves time and hassle.
Describe the business, core products and services?
We market and sell fun and leisure activities provided by our vendor-partners through our online booking platform.
Our offerings include theme park tickets, dinner cruises and a wide variety of activities for active people such as jet skiing, racecar driving, kayak tours, and indoor skydiving. Our extraordinary customer service helps the consumer get what they want when they want it.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
On the consumer side, anyone in any demographic with a thirst and curiosity for adventure, activities, culture, discovery and fun. As for B2B, our customer is the activity company.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Yes. Kijubi.com was live and in revenue prior to raising capital.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
It’s a commission-based booking engine model, with ancillary revenue derived through advertising, affiliate commissions, and enhanced listing fees for activity providers.
Strategy for profitability is to focus on deep content in recreation-rich markets, thereby creating brand loyalty and repeat business from customers.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Few competitors in the category.
- Over a decade of knowledge and experience in the recreation industry. Established relationships with hundreds of activity providers.
- Fragmented industry with large expense to aggregate activity providers (which is also a barrier to entry).
- A natural for mobile apps
- Integration with flash deal sites, OTAs, geo-domains and local and hyper local listing sites.
- Natural disasters, weather and economic issues that would inhibit consumer engagement.
Who advised you your idea isn’t going to be successful and why didn’t you listen to them?
Several potential investors felt the category was too fragmented and uncharted. We believe that was the opportunity as well. If it were easy, it would have been done already. This is a new category and we are building consumer awareness around it.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Triple the number of activities and markets. Comprehensive coverage in strategic US markets. Beginning push to international markets.
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Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.