PocketGuide puts walking tours, maps and multimedia on a mobile
TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring Hungary-based mobile walking tour and destination planning service PocketGuide.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
My name is Martin Rétai. After graduating at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics in 2001, I acquired an MA in economics at the Corvinus University of Budapest in 2004.
Along with two private investors I was the founder of Internet Point, a company manufacturing and operating internet terminals. In 2003 the company became market leader in Hungary and was funded by Enternet 2001.
I founded Budapest Pocket Guide Hungary in 2009 and developed a tourist service that turns smart phones into mobile tour guides. The company has won several awards both in Hungary and abroad. In 2010 the Finext Startup Venture Capital Fund invested Euro 1.5 million in the company.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
From one of my earlier startups I had an angel investor to help me get started. I also invested my own savings from earlier ventures, plus the Finext investment.
What problem are you trying to solve?
More and more people travel for shorter getaways (weekends) without having the time to prepare properly. PocketGuide is a solution that helps travelers to completely discover a city just like they would with the help of a personal tour-guide for fraction of the price.
Describe the business, core products and services?
PocketGuide is a city guide application that turns your smartphone into a personal tour guide and:
- If you don’t know how to start, you can choose one from the several thematic tours
- It guides you through the city with voice instructions and all information starts automatically when you reach the sights, so you don’t need to bother with your phone or read text on the small screen of your smart phones. You can put it in your pocket and enjoy the sightseeing
- If you get tired you can choose one from the restaurants, cafés and programs PocketGuide offers.
- During the sightseeing it can record your activity (your route, pictures, movies, comment…etc) and with one click it automatically creates an amazing 3D video with all your experiences, that you can share with your friends.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
18-55, smartphone users who travel a lot, are interested in the history, culture. We also plan to focus on niche markets like sightseeing for the disabled because we believe that our product can be make a difference for them too.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Yes, but last October we closed a first round venture investment from Finext, one of the largest new VC funds in Central Europe.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
We believe in the freemium model. Users can try the application for free, then they have to pay for additional content. One tour costs Euro 5, a whole city with all tours Euro 9 and users will be able to get an annual subscription for Euro 19. These are the initial prices but we are still experimenting with them.
We also believe in partnerships, because of this we continuously look for partners in online travel, airlines, handset manufacturers and mobile phone carriers. We already have partners like T-mobile on board.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Quality content – all of our tours are developed by the best local tour-guides.
- Voice navigated user interface.
- Experience sharing.
- PocketGuide is not a known brand.
- We do not have enough time for PR
- Wo do not have an international sales team
Anyone who is able to lead a large number of tourists, who they trust and learns their personal preferences is able to sell them lots of other products and services to them. We hope we will be able to become a service provider like this.
- Users will have difficulty adopting to this new way of sightseeing experience.
Who advised you your idea isn’t going to be successful and why didn’t you listen to them?
My mother who – after listening to my ideas – always told me to get a good job at a multinational company, for a good salary. Or become a doctor like my parents. But I always follow my head.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Hopefully our numbers will reflect the same growth as until now and hopefully we will be able to reach one million users.
Here is a clip:
NB: PocketGuide on Twitter is @pocket_guide.
Kevin is senior editor and a co-founder 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 at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and publishes his first book - a biography about Depeche Mode - in early-2017.