Startup Pitch – Storytrail gives you a host for your video guide

Storytrail claims it is the “world’s first platform of video city guides” – inevitably raising the eyes of many others that do it.

The company’s videos allow the user to explore cities around the world with a virtual guide.

The clips are pulled together into walking trails (or, indeed, “storytrails”) through different city neighbourhoods.

In each video, a host – the company’s co-founder and presenter – pops-up to explain curious stories behind both big attractions and hidden gems.

It has guides in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Rome so far, with Lisbon and London expected in the coming months.

Video clip:

Q&A with co-founder and producer Nuno Alves:

What problem does your business solve?

In the pre-visit stage the information is quite spread out across YouTube channels and other web media being difficult to preview and explore destinations.

During the visit stage, walking around with a guidebook is cumbersome and boring. Tour groups are often overcrowded and inflexible.

Hi-tech apps often offer poor-quality information automatically trawled from the Web and Wikipedia and don’t offer any differentiation, premium content or experience to entice the visitor.

Storytrail has a smart answer. Our multi-platform approach is being carefully crafted to be simple and enjoyable to use across the complete travel life cycle.

However, what makes us stand out is our focus on rich content (of which we have full ownership): videos of a real storyteller presenting curious stories about amazing places.

Names of founders, their management roles, and the number of full-time paid staff?

Jason Pascoe – founder and host
Nuno Alves – founder and producer
Production team (creative director + videographers + editors): seven people.

Funding arrangements?

We have one investor: Portugal Ventures.

Revenue model?

Our offer is free for the end user in all the platforms – removing the cost barrier to access content.

It’s going to be monetised (after building a community) through sponsored video ads.

We are going to produce tailor-made video ads for advertisers, where we tell interesting stories (our speciality!) about their product and history.

We merge those videos with our content as native ads.

Why do you think the pain point you’re solving is painful enough that customers are willing to pay for your solution?

We are building a community of “urban explorers”.

Our “paying users” are brands, which are always keen to tell stories about its product in order to get a deeper personal connection with their target.Why brands like sponsored

Why do brands like sponsored ads?

  • more like content than ads
  • much more engaging
  • more personal and less corporate
  • more effective than traditional ads
  • no ad-blockers
  • lots of success cases (Gimlet, BuzzFeed, New York Times, Huffington Post, etc..)

Tnooz view:

Storytrail’s idea is the next step along on the evolution of city guides.

Combining mobile guides with an actual video-based host who talks the user around a location is certainly a different take on the age-old proposition.

Focusing on sponsored or native ad-type content is also a potentially good avenue to take from a revenue perspective, not least because with a plethora of city guides already in the market there is an argument that many consumers will always simply take the free option rather than pay for a service.

Herein lies the wider problem for Storytrail (as with countless other consumer-facing brands) – getting people to use it.

With the giant online travel agencies such as, for example, offering their own guides throughout the purchase and pre-trip cycle, Storytrail will need to think of innovative ways of getting their in front of consumers.

Word-of-mouth and PR is not going to do that, not least with its revenue model going to be dependent on a volume of users to see the native ads that brands will work with the company on.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.





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  1. David Guerrero

    VT is the next big thing in travel industry but need more focus and more curated content, defiantly would help OTa to generate more revenue and set expectations,

    • Jason Pascoe

      Hi David,

      Yes, we’re totally with you on the curated content issue. Trying to trawl through the mass of (often very dubious) information available to support a city trip is quite the task. So we’re aiming to take on that curator role: finding the golden nuggets in the mass of potential stories, and bringing those to life for people along a nice route through the city.

  2. Aishwarya Pandey

    Interesting and informative. Though I did not understand what is meant by “more like content than ads

    • Jason Pascoe

      Hi Aishwarya,

      Yes, that wasn’t very well expressed. What we mean is that brands will prefer our native ads, because they are in effect curious stories that are in keeping with the rest of our content. They should be just as interesting to the user as any other of our stories. That is, the native ads are more like real story content than a traditional ad. Therefore, much more interesting & engaging for the user and much more interesting to the brand too.

  3. Paolo

    Interesting project. The UX is great and the storytelling is absolutely brilliant. I’m not surprised that Portugal Ventures is backing it. Anyway, as you pointed out Kevin, I’m not sure it can succeed in the crowded pre-trip cycle and I also think that it’s missing an important point: the geographical dimension of the trail. I mean, yes, I love the tips for Chinatown, but now what am I supposed to do to experience it? Try to recreate the path on Google Maps? Moreover, the video narration IMHO risks becoming kinda a spoiler in many cases. Finally, a question for Jason: how are you planning to build the community?

    • Jason Pascoe

      Hi Paolo, Thanks for your kind words about our Storytrail UX and storytelling. The geographic dimension you you point out is essential. And actually it is currently supported – there is a map button on the trail screen which takes you to an interactive map of the trail route. However, the button needs a revamp to be more immediately noticeable – many people miss it at the moment. (it’s the circle next to the trail name on the screen where you scroll through the stories).

      Regarding video narration being a spoiler, I think for some people might find that, but for many others it will be a helpful way to preview and select what they’re going to visit. And for those who prefer no “spoilers” they can take our forth-coming app and watch the videos in-situ instead. In either case, the experience of really being there is always going to be something exciting that adds a lot over just watching a video about a place.


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