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A conversation over Skype got three Oxford students to start Tripr

Sindhu Kashyap
2nd Aug 2015
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Tripr, an app that connects people going to the same place at the same time, was conceptualised and conceived in May 2014. At the time, Johannesburg resident Nicholas Green (Nick, now CEO and co-founder)was living in a 20-feet shipping container in the jungles of Congo on work, a mining exploration project. One day, when he returned to the container after work, Alexander Dru (Alick, now COO at Tripr) happened to be taking a break from preparing for his final examinations at Oxford. So they decided to catch up, over a Skype call.

Alick and Nick had known each other for years even at the time; they attended boarding school in England together for a brief while. The duo met again at Oxford, where Nick studied Engineering and Alick, History. In this reunion call of sorts, the duo happened to discuss their summer plans. They discovered that they would both be in Ibiza at the same time.

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The Founding Team and Advisors at Tripr

The Eureka moment

During this same conversation, the two discussed the number of times they had got back from a trip, only to find that a friend had been in the same place as them. This marked the beginning of Tripr. The duo planned it to bean app that would allow people to find out if any of their friends were going on trips to the same places as them, at the same time.

"As the idea developed, we realised that travellers would want to meet other travellers, as well as see their friends. We immediately realised the utility of a social travel app. Work began later that week, the day after I finished my final exam," says Alick. Soon Miraan Tabrez joined the duo, and Tripr, as the CTO.

Miraan had started his first online business at the age of 11. His business was selling e-books and dropping shipping products via eBay. By age 12, he had launched a web development company and, by age 16, had interned at FTSE and been already offered a job. "A coding wunderkind, Miraan built the first version of Tripr in under a month. He currently is studying Computer Science and Philosophy at Oxford," says Alick.

While Miraan focuses on the technical aspects of Tripr, Alick and Nick handle its day-to-day operations. "We, the founders, are not from different continents. However, the Tripr team is. Today, we are a young in-house team of 11 members, representing five continents altogether, brought together by a mutual love of travel," says Alick.

The problems Tripr solves

The team says that, while Tripr has been used by several different travellers. According to the team user adoption has been highest with the following three user cases, categorized as three fears:

  1. The fear of being alone: Solo travellers often find it hard to meet and socialize with other travellers. Going to a new city on your own where you know nobody can be a scary prospect. Tripr enables solo travellers to connect and chat with other travellers and locals who will be in the same place at the same time as them. With the app, users can connect before their trip so that, by the time they arrive, they’ll know other people in the area.
  2. The fear of missing out: Young travellers often worry that they are missing out. Tripr lets users know if any of their Facebook friends are going to the same place as them. It also connects them with other travellers whom they would have missed out on meeting if not for Tripr.
  3. The fear of the unknown: Travellers who are nervous about going to a city they don’t know can connect with locals to ask about the best places to visit, and the top things to do, in the area. They can also connect with other travellers to share advice and past experiences. A recently added feature, ‘See Friends Who Have Been Here Before’ lets user find out which of their Facebook friends have been to a city before, so that they can message them about what the place was like.

 

Also Read: Travel goes Social with Touristlink


 

Roadblocks and deviations

Like any other startup, this London-based social travel app faced its own set of challenges. "With limited funds, renting out an office space did not seem prudent. To avoid such unnecessary costs, we decided to develop the app in-house, out of my garage in South Kensington," says Alick.

The next challenge the team faced, in November 2014, was disguised as a great opportunity. The team had launched their app on the iOS App Store. This generated international press coverage for it. Alick says that the launch was successful, in terms of the volume of hype it created about the app.


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But the app was wrongly branded as “Tinder for travellers”– an app that could get you a quick hook-upon a trip. This misinterpretation gave people the wrong idea. "Furthermore, we were overwhelmed by the app’s unprecedented popularity as a result of press coverage. Our MVP (minimum viable product) broke due to too many downloads," adds Alick.

However, the team forged ahead, raised finances, and has now built a fully scalable backend. Last month, they launched Tripr on Android, and re-launched it for iOS.

They have also done as much as possible to distance themselves from the “Tinder for travel" label, by completely re-designing the app. "As such, a vast majority of the users now use Tripr for its intended purpose, rather than for a hook-up," says Alick.


 

Also Read: Bengaluru-based TripFactory raises series A funding from Mohandas Pai’s Aarin Capital Partners


 

Growth and traction

The team believes that Tripr's target audience is rapidly growing to include travellers of different demographics, but it users remain concentrated in the young traveller and backpacker category. "Tripr is hugely relevant today because youth travel is becoming increasingly social and technological, as can be seen in the popularity of social media travel content. Yet there was no online platform wherein these travellers could connect with each other," adds Alick.

Further, Alick says that their app is especially popular with female solo travellers. As the app’s users can connect with people before their trip, this eliminates the safety risks that female travellersmay face. He says, "Tripr essentially takes away the fears people have about solo travel. Instead of risking meeting total strangers in a hostel or on a night out, female solo travellers can now use Tripr to choose who they want to connect, chat, and meet with before arriving at their destination."

In the last quarter, app downloads grew at a compounded rate of 52 percent monthly, and the MAUs grew at a monthly compound rate of 58.8 per cent. The team is currently testing the in-app APIs that allows the users to book things to do, places to stay and ways of getting there. This in turn will help in building partner APIs. Advertising is another revenue option the team is looking at. The team intends to share customized advertising on its interface, based on the date, time and destination of the user’s travel.

"These are very exciting times for us. After the success of our first round of funding, back in December 2014, we will launch our second round of funding later this month via Crowdcube, the UK-based equity crowdfunding platform," concludes Alick.

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