For the remainder of the trip, I couldn’t help but think about the idea. By the time I got home, I had a long list of notes on my phone, anything from design, revenue model, target market, etc. Great, lots of notes. Now the hard part — bringing this idea to life. How on earth do I do that?
Well…if there’s anything I learned in school, there’s one place that seems to have an answer– you got it right, Google. Coupling the vast list of results with my limited knowledge of how well-known entrepreneurs started off their businesses, I mocked up a project plan with some generic activities, timelines and metrics. Fortunately, I’ve developed project plans in the past as a consultant, except this time, the client was myself!
First up — market research! With the aid of my good friend, Google, I began scanning the web for any travel-related solutions and businesses that aim to help travellers discover the experiences they desire. Solutions ranged wide and far, from large and recognizable companies like Trip Advisor and Four Square, to start-ups such as Vayable. The more I found, the more I got confused. My initial idea got lost in a sea of potential solutions and eventually, all of these businesses seemed to do the same thing! Is this market too crowded? Are these companies already addressing my problem? Why didn’t I use these solutions before? Wait, what was my idea again?? I began to spin …. a state I knew all to well when I first began my career. That was my sign to take a step back, collect my thoughts and re-visit my project plan. Armed with a long list of travel-related businesses and solutions, I came back to the question….so what next?
So how did I come to the crazy realization that I wanted to build a product suitable for a low-touch point, crowded market? Just by Googling ‘travel startup’ or ‘travel advice,’ you get 30M and 245M results respectively. On top of that, most millennials are limited to the number of times they can travel a year (kudos to those who make it a full time activity!). In this post, I’d like to briefly touch on how this idea came about.
A few months back, I decided to use all my vacation days and take a brief trip through Europe. With a limited number of days and a handful of cities, this trip was nothing short of intense! Upon arriving at each city, my travel partner and I would settle in at our AirBnB, grab a water bottle and head out to explore; and more often than not, we had no idea where exactly we were headed or what we were doing. We found ourselves asking for advice from our AirBnB host, friends on social media, or strangers along the way. With our curiosity and sense for adventure, we often found ourselves sitting with a number of locals and conversing in a language we had no idea how to speak (nodding and smiling tends to work well for me). And we loved it! For each new city we visited, this process of settling in, asking and seeking advice, and going out to find just that became quite a routine….but a exhausting one. I recall, there was a night I couldn’t sleep simply because I knew I had to wake up in a few hours to head off to our next location and have to restart this process all over again. Believe it or not, that was my ‘ah ha’ moment! Suddenly, a million ideas and considerations began flooding into my head, everything I learned as a management consultant and/or heard from famous Silicon Valley entrepreneurs flushed into my mind. Who would be the users? What are their pain points? What will the user journey look like? How can I validate this opportunity? My mind was flying at a ridiculous speed trying to put the pieces together and reminding myself to write this down the following morning.
So here we are, a few months later, still thinking about this problem. Now, mind you, this was just MY problem and does not imply everyone else feels the same way. One could argue that if my trip wasn’t so crammed, this problem wouldn’t feel as cumbersome; and a million other variables that could minimize this problem. As a result, I began a side project dedicated to finding solutions on how I can overcome this problem for future trips. This entailed asking friends for advice on how they go about their trips, reading blogs, Googling potential solutions on the market. As I began trying to solve my own problem, the gap began to crystallize more and more in my head. And it all began that one night I had wished I could’ve fallen asleep sooner.
Quick intro of myself, my name is Raphael and I am a millennial who caught the travel and start-up fever. I studied commerce in my undergraduate and spent just over two years as a management consultant. Outside of work, I regularly attend various events in my beloved city, Toronto, where I get to try new technologies, meet other tech enthusiasts and get to indulge in almost every type of cuisine possible – particularly thai food!
As part of my Digital Communications Strategy & Social Media course, I have been asked to start and maintain a blog for the duration of the course. To be honest, this is my first time creating a blog so please pass on any feedback you have!
As for the blog topic, I scratched my head quite a bit while trying to come up with a theme that I can write regularly about; and hopefully, maybe even continue after this course! Given the nature of this ask, I landed on blogging about the progress of a side-project I have taken on, and that is starting a start-up targeted for travelling millennials. With the exception of the first few posts, this blog will be a live reflection of everything I am doing for the next few months to get this project off the ground. Hope you enjoy it!
Also, I’d like to take a moment and give credit to the individuals at Gimlet Media who inspired this idea; in essence, I have been listening to a podcast called Start Up which is produced by the co-founders, Alex and Matt, who recorded the progress of launching their media production company. Do check them out if you are looking to dig into the minds of two individuals trying to kick start a company, including all the challenges and downfalls that you typically don’t hear about.