Startup pitch: Guiddoo wants to enrich travel with mobile audio visual guides

With mobile offering an on-the-go experience and travellers increasingly becoming dependent on devices for travel-related tasks, Guiddoo wants to be part of the equation.

The India-based startup has mobile apps that provide step-by-step audio and video guides for monuments, along with lesser known facts, historical and architectural significance.

The apps allows users to take pictures of point of interests and share it in their social channels. Also, it provides information like weather, ticket prices, monument timings and our recommendations on restaurants, hotels and shopping places nearby.

Founded in March 2013 (app launched in October 2013) by Nidhi Varma, a 14-year experienced professional in travel industry, the startup has an app for iOS, Android, and Windows platform.

Varma tells Tnooz why she launched the company:

“A year back, my husband and I went on a trip to the Eiffel Tower. But, when we reached there it was closed due to some labour strike and on the next day we couldn’t go to the top level as it was closed. We missed seeing the key sights its significance. Infact, we even download an app (that we paid for) and it was only in French.

“I felt that there was a need for a product that was available in a user mobile and it can serve as a guide to monuments and tourist spots across the world.”

The nine member company is currently bootstrapped, and it operates from offices in Mumbai and Dubai. Various teams in the company include – Technology, content, graphics and UI design.

Guiddoo is the first Indian startup to be selected for the Dubai Internet City backed In5 program, claims the company.

Two key personnel in the startup include – Vineet Budki who looks after marketing and business development, and Darshan Sharma who manages content and social engagement.

Vine video about Guiddoo

Q&A with Varma below.

Estimation of market size?

According to UN World Tourism organization, one billion people travelled internationally in 2013. In this 54% were leisure travellers with another 60% have travelled to key monuments and tourist spots. The latter is our target market who are further classified as smartphone users (estimated at 200 million annually).

Our team did an extensive surveys during the conceptualization stage and we found out that these travellers spend on an average $80 on various activities like tour guides, monument ticketing souvenir shopping, etc.

Based on these parameters, the market size is estimated at $16 billion annually.


The audio tour guide has a specific segment that has started growing recently – the city guides. Competitors include TourPal and PocketGuide. Also, other competitors include the audio devices and human guides for monuments.

Though the specific niche of audio visual tour guides of world famous monuments is still nascent on the mobile space, Guiddoo can be considered an early mover with respect to the amount of content and coverage of monuments. Two specific competitors that are in this space include and AudioCompass.

Revenue model and strategy for profitability?

Guiddoo plans to run on a freemium model or the Razor blade model. Our basic app version is free of cost.

Our current revenue source is through a lifetime membership to the Guiddoo Community at $1.99 which gives access to audio guides and events that we plan to host like weekend group tours, contests and activities.

We have also partnered with Wikipedia for Wikiloves Monuments and GoUnesco for its travel challenge.

The other revenue lines that we are exploring include – commissions through monument ticketing and local business listing fee.

What problem does the business solve?

Leisure travellers (international and domestic) have a high inclination to visit tourist attractions that have historic, cultural, religious or technological significance.

These wonders or monuments can be best enjoyed if the traveller gets to know about the key sights, history and trivia associated with it.

Currently, this is achieved by using local tour guides, audio guides, travel books or the internet.

How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/any pivots along the way in the early stages?

Initially Guiddoo was focused on world famous monuments with a specific emphasis on India.

As of now, based on the strong interest in users, the model is being extended across verticals of history, arts, culture and tourism.

Our next offering is a product that showcases the tourism aspect of FIFA Brazil World Cup 2014.

Why should people or companies use the business?

People (end users) and companies (tour operators, monument managements, etc) should use this product because it provides an easy and one stop shop solution for travellers who want to enjoy the rich culture and history of a tourist spot and do not want to spend extensively on hiring tour guides or taking boring audio guides.

Since the product is available in user mobile, it can be used again and again.

What is the strategy for raising awareness and the customer/user acquisition (apart from PR)?

Guiddoo plans to focus on target segments through a variety of offline and online marketing tools, including:

  • Partnerships: This is one of the key drivers that we plan to use to market Guiddoo and reach target users. These partnerships include tour operators, online travel agents and monument managements.
  • Social media platforms: This has been very helpful in spreading the Guiddoo platform across target segments with strong traction from Twitter and social networking sites. Though we are strongly focusing on the organic part, paid social media reach has also been used and optimized for relevant and targeted downloads.
  • App store optimization: We have been successful in generating organic users by applying this feature, where in we are using search parameters to position Guiddoo on the most searched keywords on App store.

Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?

In the next three years, Guiddoo will be a leader in providing technologically enhanced audio tour products that would range from mobile phones to new products like Google Glass. It will also be available across major world languages with strong revenue streams from audio guides, monument ticketing and tour related products.

Guiddoo would also have strongly built on other verticals of history, arts, culture and tourism.

The major challenges that we see in achieving this vision is management of content resources and building scalable technological solutions that can handle the user load.

What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?

Though there are a lot of good travel resources in the market, each new product is aimed at not correcting something wrong in the travel space but improving the experience of the traveller.

Our specific objective is to develop an innovation driven technology product that makes Guiddoo a complete hands free product for a user to get important information during the trip as well as enjoy the sights around without getting hassled by tour guides or using unimaginative and boring audio guides.

What other technology company would you consider yourselves most closely aligned to in terms of culture and style… and why?

I believe that we are most closely aligned to Apple in terms of culture and style as we strive to build a strong product that is focused towards its target segment. Also, everyone working in Guiddoo loves travelling and wants to build a product that proves to be an important tool for every traveller.

Apple also believed in simplifying things and that is exactly what we are trying to do at Guiddoo with strong focus on simplifying the user interface, content and usage for high user experience.

Tnooz view:

Rather than being everything for everyone, Guiddoo has chosen to focus only on monuments across the world.

With content consumption via smartphones increasing and travel service providers constantly looking to provide differentiated service to customers, Guiddoo has a new market to carve.

Though the competitors of Guiddoo might be the fellow competitive services like AudioCompass and GuideKick, on a longer run, the competitors might be companies like Google and Apple that are into mapping services.

Recently, Google launched 360 degree Street View imagery for 30 iconic Indian sites including the Taj Mahal. With initiatives like Google Culture Institute, the possibility of Google adding audio guides to their Street View (for tourist places) cannot be ignored.

Step forward, with Google Glass doing rounds in market with its limited apps and usecases, the potential for this device to barge into audio visual tour guide is high. More than mobile, Glass might be a better fit for the audio visual tour guide service.

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Karthick Prabu

About the Writer :: Karthick Prabu

Karthick was general manager for Tnooz in Asia until September 2014.



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