I remember looking for ‘something to do’ during my first solo international trip some years ago. The destinations were new and unlike the past couple of years, internet and mobile did not offer as many options then. So the most common means of discovery were to reach the destination and figure things out. But then, that’s the case even today; while there isn’t a lack of information per se, most of us still look for informational and transactional needs locally.
To solve this problem, Guiddoo, a travel technology startup, was born. This app builds in-destination experiences and offers travellers information and details on activities, provides audio-visual travel guides and booking and information options for hotels, restaurants and shopping.
The Eureka moment
The idea for Guiddoo came to Nidhi Varma a regular traveller abroad. On her first trip to Paris, she stayed at a hotel room, with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Being a romantic, she decided to visit the Eiffel Tower Summit someday with her someone special. However, when she landed in Paris after getting married, the reality was different.
The couple found out that the Eiffel Tower was closed on the first day of their stay and on the second day there were long queues, and the summit was closed with no detailed information available. "The city guides available redirected us to Wikipedia pages and we came to know that we could have booked the tickets in advance," says Nidhi.
This got the couple thinking that if the real-time information was available through their smartphones, things would have been easier. This personal experience gave way to Guiddoo as an idea which started as a audio-visual guide to monuments and gradually evolved into an in-destination experience product that offers curated tours and activities, audio-visual travel guides and a lot more, to travellers through their smartphones.
Building the team
Guiddoo has six core team members and a 17-member team based out of Mumbai, including Vineet Budki, CEO and Founder; Guiddoo, Nidhi Varma Founder, Guiddoo; Darshan Sharma, Marketing Lead; Prashant Choudhary as CTO; Alvvina Sayed, the Content Head; and Anuradha Mali for Business Development.
Nidhi says that the challenges faced while building Guiddoo have been similar to what other startups face such as funding, partnerships and revenue model implementation. The team, however, considers itself lucky as people have been receptive to the company’s idea and believe in the team.
Traction and growth
"In fact, we have the best results in all the challenges faced, with investors like Pawan Borle, SVP, Fly Dubai, partners like MakeMyTrip and Mekong Tourism and steady revenue streams with repeat business," says Nidhi.
The Guiddoo team claims to have over 1,00,000 organic downloads so far and has seen over 2,00,000 visitors in two months of their web presence launch with strong user engagement. The team has three streams of revenue: about 60 per cent of its revenue is generated through tour and activity sales, while 15 per cent comes from the audio guide and the remaining through a B2B subscription model.
Prakash says that the team at Guidoo plans to build a great user experience and predictive tool for people while they are travelling. The features include- traveller-activity mappings, adaptive price forecasts for activities, travel happiness index and activity-lifestyle maps for travellers using innovative technology like big data, machine learning and analytics tools.
Market space and future plans
According to the annual Phocuswright Research on the travel segment, the market size is believed to be close to USD 160 billion annually. Guidoo was initially bootstrapped by Vineet and Nidhi. It has also raised initial funding in February from investors like Pawan Borle (SVP Fly Dubai, Investor Team Indus, GapJumpers), Anoop Agarwal, Nirmal Singh (Head-HR, Ducab), Vishal Shah, Ushik Gala and Sanjay Shah (who are CAs and serial investors based in Mumbai).
"We at Guiddoo want to be the leader in the in-destination space and plan to give innovative product enhancements in the near future which provide great user experience. Other than this, we want to build on our revenue lines, sign up new tour-and-activity partners across destinations and have crazy 'startup guys’ who love travel become a part of Guiddo," says Nidhi.