Startup pitch: Zipskee looks to connect travellers with locals

Zipskee has been set up as a platform to bring travellers and locals together. It is seeking to help all travellers have a friend who can show them the best spots while on a trip and hopefully make for a different but richer experience. The startup received funding of around $120,000 in May prior to its July launch.

Q&A with chief executive Evan Hung:

What problem does your business solve?

There is no easy way to meet and connect with locals while traveling. As seasoned travelers, some of our best stories come from meeting locals — immersing ourselves in new cultures and forging friendships across borders. Zipskee makes these relationships more accessible by creating a robust digital environment of travelers hungry for a better travel experience and locals eager to share the best parts of their city.

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

Evan Hung, chief executive officer, Bret Doucette, chief technology officer and John Galloway, chief strategy officer. The team also includes two full-time software engineers.

Funding arrangements?

Closed a $120k seed round in May 2016.

Revenue model?

Zipskee will monetize by being the premier provider of rich travel data to Data Management Platforms (DMPs) for use in targeted advertising.

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

Our platform is free to use for our users — but companies are willing to buy data to supplement their digital advertising due to a proven record of success when combining advertising campaigns with excellent targeting.

From a user standpoint, the major pain point we solve is the difficulty of making genuine connections with other cultures. We believe that travelers desire to learn more and interact with local people, but the cultural barriers can be difficult to overcome. Zipskee is a unique solution that encourages friendships, fosters international connection, and makes the world a little smaller.

External validation?

We are fortunate to be advised by experienced entrepreneurs and experts in the tech space, including Haley Taylor (co-founder of Revolv, exited to Google), Michael Clark (CTO of Artifact Uprising at VSCO, former CTO of Photobucket), and Keith Nyhouse (CMO at Healthgrades, former VP of digital at DISH). These individuals have been instrumental to our existing progress and challenge us to be a high-performing organization every single day.

Tnooz view:

The concept of bringing travellers together with locals has always been a great one. Travellers get that yearned for local experience, really learn about a place and culture and maybe even make some new friends.

This is by no means a new concept however. Many startups, with a similar theme, aiming to provide the traveller/local platform have come and gone with slightly different twists and varying degrees of success.

Tripbod was one of the early examples of such startups and it was acquired by TripAdvisor just over two years ago as the reviews giant looked to build out its local content.

That’s an interesting trend in itself – how is a startup to compete if giants such as TripAdvisor are getting in on the local act.

Airbnb is another example. It’s platform of hosts is a ready-made vehicle for connecting travellers with locals. It’s largest brand campaign to date was all about the local feel of a place.

Zipskee’s slant is to sell travel data for companies to use in targeted advertising. For that it will need to build huge scale which is an the eternal problem for startups which don’t tend to have huge marketing bucks.

On the up side there would well be room for Zipskee on a more regional basis. The backpacking community to Australia and Asia is big and having a friendly face in many destinations in the region would be a plus.

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About the Writer :: Linda Fox

Linda worked at tnooz from September 2011 to June 2018 in roles including senior reporter, deputy editor and managing editor.



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  1. Reginal Hakizimana

    i would like to know if local tour operator can register their tours so that the traveler come with an idea about what to visit.

  2. Drew Meyers

    What’s the incentive for locals to join/sign up/meet up with & help travelers? That’s the core question, and I believe to be the reason no one has cracked this nut with previous attempts.

  3. Ian R Clayton

    Like your appraisal – we are about to launch a new startup in travel and would live your feedback – is that possible? Thanks Linda


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