Triptouch.com, an Israel-based startup, has recently launched a resource hub for individual travelers. Covering more than 3000 destinations worldwide, Triptouch mashes up some of the services people use when planning a trip, including Google maps, Eventful, WikiTravel, Weather.com and more. It is a one-stop shop, offering destination information, service booking and a live community to answer all of your questions. Gil Ruda, the founder and CEO of Triptouch, and fellow blogger at StartupIsrael, was kind enough to answer 10 questions about TripTouch for the readers of VC Cafe. Below is the transcript.
Hi Gil, thank you for sharing your experience with VC Cafe.
So, how was TripTouch born?
The seed of TripTouch was planted in a one month trip I took to New Zealand in early 2006. During that trip I noticed from my experience and from other travelers I met that the solutions on the web for travelers on the go were not sufficient. On the long flights back home I sketched on a piece of paper a few ideas. When I came back I’ve done some studying and found out that there is a business opportunity and decided to start a startup to implement those ideas. Then I had the luck to find more people who believed in this idea and wanted to be a part of it, or invest, or just give good advice.
How do you generate revenue from your user-generated-content?
One of the advantages in the online travel domain is that revenue models are well established: targeted ads and commissions from travel bookings. For now we use Google AdSense for ads and Kayak+ Hostelworld for travel bookings.
What need in the marketplace is triptouch servicing?
While most travel sites focus exclusively on pre-trip planning, TripTouch is aimed at the needs of independent travelers during their trip . Every year hundreds of millions of young people travel for a relatively long trips without planning too much and without booking ahead, and the needs of this market are clearly under served: finding what they really need in an overflow of scattered information is frustrating.
We believe that our concept of a personalized location based travel homepage is the answer for that need.
What differentiates triptouch from other travel aggregators like Expedia.com and social travel sites like tripadvidsor?
Our focus on location based services to travelers during their trip is a key differentiator from other travel information services. We combine rich aggregated content, useful services and travel related social network functionality.
What’s your strategy to gain marketshare from the competitors?
No doubt that this is our main challenge. First of all, we are building a useful product for our target market. Our penetration strategy is to start with the segment of youth- student travel. They travel for long period of time and use the web constantly.
We are going to address them using collaborations with travel related service providers both online and off-line.
Using few initial collaborations plus a bit of guerrilla marketing and organic search we managed to get around 100,000 monthly entries only a few weeks after launching our beta site.
It looks like you are using a wiki platform as the driving technology. Why did you make that decision?
As a matter of fact we do not… We aggregate content from various sources like Wikitravel, Eventful, Weather.com and more. The travel information is based mainly on Wikitravel. As a travel homepage we plan to extend our sources and get content from more global and local sites.
Can you tell me about the relationship with Kayak and Hostelworld ?
We use both to allow our users to book travel services. Hostelworld has more than 15,000 hostels worldwide.
Our partnership with Kayak let us use their powerful travel search engine within our site for hotels accommodation, flights and car rental.
We get referral fees for bookings and revenue share for ads.
What are the benefits and limitations of being based in Israel?
At this stage being based in Israel is fine. We approach worldwide audiences and not specific markets like the US. Israelis love to travel so we get very important feedback here. The Israeli web ecosystem is very supporting for startups these days.
If a next financing round becomes necessary, would you you approach angels or VCs? Why?
As a matter of fact we are working on our next financing round. We had only a pre seed investment made by a group of private investors. We intend to approach both angels and relevant Vcs, since we believe that what we should take now is a seed round of up to 1$M. With this sum we will get initial market penetration.
What’s your vision for TripTouch in 2008? in five years?
We have a plan with specific goals for 2008 in R&D, content and business development. Generally our vision is to build an active community of travelers who use TripTouch whenever and wherever they travel. In five years we hope to be a world leader for the travel online content/ community services.
Thank you for taking the time and good luck with the beta.