Startup pitch: Wowanders applies AI to social travel recommendations

Finish technology startup Wowanders is taking a unique spin at social media travel sharing with an AI powered mobile travel diary app which automatically compiles travel moments based on location and photos taken. Users would simply polish their accrued trip details into a record that includes a rating of the experience.

The developers aim to build the app into a trusted recommendations engine to promote destinations, hotels, and venues.

What problem does your business solve?

89% of travelers say they are frustrated with travel planning, and one of the main reasons for this is the vast amount of options and information online on different hotels, restaurants and sights. We made several in-depth interviews and questionnaires and realized that the way people want to solve this is to easily get recommendations from their friends.

Getting actionable recommendations from your friends however, is currently difficult since people simply cannot remember details (names of restaurants etc.) of the places they visited and thus cannot recommend. They can typically only tell which countries or cities they liked.

Our app helps people both to remember the details and to share recommendations in an easy and fun way and only with those whom they want to share.

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

We have two equal co-founders, Taru Aalto, CEO and Maija Kaukonen head of product, who have a long background in international business and from different functions such as sales, software product management and go-to-market. The rest of the team is subcontractors and freelancers for the moment.

Funding arrangements?

Partially funded by founders and partially by angel investors, such as Juha-Petteri Kukkonen, the founder of CreateTrips, a travel startups whose app was in the top 10 on App Store in more than 100 countries when the company was active in 2013-2016. We are currently preparing for a seed round.

Revenue model?

We don’t only help consumers to more easily find the hotels, restaurants and sights to visit, but also to instantly make bookings on them. Thus our revenue is based on the affiliate marketing and/or commissions from those bookings.

Online booking commission market for hotels alone is roughly $20 billion and growing at an average of 9% per year with mobile taking continuously a bigger share.

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

Anyone who travels a lot for vacation and is the one responsible for those plans (in 80% of cases this is a woman) knows the pain associated in going through all the options and hundreds of similar sounding reviews. According to research, travelers visit 290 websites before booking their trips, so there is a lot of absolute time savings we can bring.

We also know that 90% of people are lazy and never create content – but at the same time, we know that people want their trips documented to be able to relive them. Besides already publicly available research we have validated the problem and the associated pain also through interviews and prototyping and have currently a pilot ongoing.

Initial pilot feedback has already proved many of our initial hypothesis to be correct and we are determined to deliver on our mission: making dreaming, discovering and reliving travels joyful and social.

External validation?

External validation has three main elements: Our valuable main advisor, consumer and industry feedback, and founders’ wide knowhow and proven track record.

First, the lead investor on our angel round, Juha-Petteri Kukkonen, is also our advisor. He has both been the founder of a successful travel start-up as well as has long international business experience.

Second, we have partnerships agreed with leading local players to enrich our content and speed-up our consumer acquisition and in general, the interest both from travelers as well as from industry players has been strong.

Third, we, founders, also have together more than 30+ years of experience from building growth in international technology and consumer companies, combined with huge amount of passion and determination

Tnooz view:

The notion of automated travel records is appealing, and addresses a real organizational need especially for those who travel often. If the app gets adequate social traction, so that the recommendations of participants reach an audience beyond the app, it could prove useful.

We’ve seen some of this already. Google Trips automatically gathers itinerary information and Swarm gamifies the sharing of locations visited. Apps like Bonjournal, Journi and Esplorio already offer the smart journaling features Wowanders promises, each with its unique spin on the theme and all offering attractive user interfaces.

The question is whether Wowanders can significantly differentiate the app to make it more useful to travelers or travel brands than these competitors.

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Marisa Garcia

About the Writer :: Marisa Garcia

Marisa Garcia is the tnooz aviation analyst. She has covered travel technology, design, branding, and strategy for leading publications, including Aircraft Interiors International Magazine, APEX Magazine, AirlineTrends, and Travel+Leisure. She also shares industry insights on her site Flight Chic. Fly with her on Twitter.



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