AudioCompass is a Mumbai-based mobile travel guide founded by Gautam Shewakramani back in 2011. The company has recently secured US$ 400,000 in seed round financing from a group of investors, including Blume Ventures and Urrshila Kerkar, a veteran in the travel Industry. AudioCompass will use the funds raised to expand its destination coverage, strengthen its product development and fund new marketing initiatives.
The beginning: going from offline to online
Gautam Shewakramani is an MIT Sloan alumnus who left a lucrative corporate career to start up in 2011. “The initial idea was completely offline where we provided physical audio book guides at the destinations,” says Gautam. They went on to become the official guide book providers at the Taj Mahal and have grown ever since. Over the next year, they ventured in the mobile space and started providing individual apps for different destinations.
“Things came together finally and we hit our business model with a mobile travel guide,” says Gautam. AudioCompass has got close to 300 points of interest in the guide covering 15 different tours/destinations. And this is growing at the rate of about 100 points of interest per month. AudioCompass has been recognized as the official audio tour partner of the Government of India, Ministry of Tourism (www.incredibleindia.org), and several other UNESCO sites. The funding will help them consolidate and increase their reach. AudioCompass is also organizing an official public release in early March which will be its first big marketing push.
The road ahead
The AudioCompass Guide basically turns smartphones into personal audio tour guides, and helps travelers explore India through stories of cultural and historical sites, museums and monuments. Urrshila Kerkar, an advisor to the AudioCompass Board, added, “Travel operators are trying to find innovative ways to deliver experiences and value to their customers that go beyond planning and booking. I am impressed with AudioCompass’ vision of making high quality content available to travelers to improve their travel experience.”
Blume Ventures believes that given the exponential growth in content consumption via smartphone, AudioCompass can become an indispensable part of every traveler’s toolkit. (More about Blume in their recent report)
Tocha Labs tried to build this business previously and Guiddoo is another recent high-profile launch in the space. The existence of players validates the market potential. For AudioCompass, the revenue model is built around in app purchases. A seven-member team at the moment, AudioCompass sits at the intersection of travel and the rise of mobile with a good offline experience to bank upon.