Startup pitch: TagTagCity gets funding, targets destination infobesity

Destination information startup TagTagCity has raised EURO 1.5 million in funding from Holland-based Javest Investment Fund and others.

The funding comes on top of EURO 215,000 from Iminds and a private Belgian angel investor in December.

Belgium-based TagTagCity was created to provide information based on a users (tourists) geolocation as well as help tourism businesses be visible on mobile.

Founders Geoffroy Simon, chief operating officer and Olivier Poulaert, chief executive, had no intention of re-creating FourSquare, it is more about acting as an aggregation service of touristic information based on local recommendations.

The 10-strong team include Simon and Poulaert as well as co-founders Maxime Dewelle, chief technology officer, chief visionary officer Stijn Vanderplaetse, and a community manager and developers.

The startup is targeting the 200 million SME’s (local merchants) that represent 80% of the global economy but the vast majority of them do not have any mobile presence yet.

Competition could be considered the likes of Foursquare and Yelp but TagTagCity says it is not aiming to create a new social network. Instead it wants to gather qualitative information about a place by aggregating different channels such as Wikipedia, Yelp, Facebook or Foursquare. It is happy to redirect users to Yelp reviews if that’s what they want.

Tourists use the service by accessing the website and clicking on ‘around me’. The can also filter results by categories. Users can also connect via Facebook to bring in a social map of favourite places.

Merchants sign up via the website, enter an address and choose the place the want to claim. Once their identity has been verified, they can manage images and content as they see fit.

To make money, the company charges merchants a fee of five Euros/ month for the basic version. There are also plans to launch a widget store, giving merchants the opportunity to pay for some extra services such as ecommerce solutions and advertising.

tagtagcity

What problem does the business solve?

Information is everywhere, at everytime. Mobile web is part of our everyday lives. Nowadays travelling behaviour has changed -82.6% of leisure travelers use their smartphone all the time on vacation. It’s all about instantaneity.

These facts can’t be denied anymore. But, there are some consequences. How can I be sure to immediately find some qualitative information about a place when there are so many pages about it ?

TagTagCity solves this issue. Thanks to our interactive platform we help travelers to immediately get mobile-friendly and geolocalised information about places they are looking for. We gather all the relevant information about a place in one single page.

Infobesity has made internet information unreliable, for some people. With TagTagCity, you can discover your friends favorite spots. We let them be your guides.

Of course, business owners are also concerned. Making a website mobile-friendly, being visible on the web is time and… money consuming. We help them to be where the customers are by providing a mobile website for free, in a minute, without any IT skills needed.

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

At the start, we were really into gamification for travelers. But we changed our mind and got focused on providing information about what’s all around them.

For merchants, we are more a mobile web marketing solution.

Why should people or companies use the business?

Because it’s one of the most effective ways for travelers to discover a city. No travel guides needed anymore, your smartphone is enough. We also know that people trust their friends more than anything else, so thanks to our Social Map, they can travel as a local thanks to their friends (on web version only).

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

Our main channels are social media. We do believe that, nowadays, we can talk directly to those who are interested in our services. We are always re-building our strategy in order to be where the potential customers are.

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

Our user-base will be more international than ever. Our mobile marketing solution will be expanded as a ‘must have’ for local merchants. We are working on our scalability process at the moment.

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

As we already said, Infobesity is one of the major issues. People are getting too much information, too many options. They need to be reassured and helped in their discovery process. Tourists have to discover a city as a local.

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

We aren’t into comparison but what we can say is that we are proud to have a strong, dynamic and creative team to work on our start-up.

Tnooz view:

It’s always encouraging to see startups get funding and the two-pronged strategy of geolocation-based information for tourists and a mobile offering for merchants is sensible.

Also, providing the service to merchants for an affordable monthly fee with plans for premium add-ons should help the startup.

That said, there are so many located-based mobile destination services out there all competing for a slice of the action. Some have even tweaked their business models or pivoted. Infobesity really sums it up.

The problem for many is scale, getting enough eye-balls quickly and repeatedly without have to spend huge marketing dollars. TagTagCity hopes social media will go some way to spreading the word for it and social is built into the service.

What will be interesting to see is whether the service gains consumer traction or business-to-business traction more quickly. Or, will they develop in line with each other?

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About the Writer :: Linda Fox

Linda Fox is managing editor for Tnooz. For the past decade years she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine.

In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management and research companies.

Prior to her freelance career she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.

 

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