Any observer will agree that the travel industry is ripe for some innovation, so it’s no surprise that many startups are eying that space. During the recent JFDI-Innov8 Bootcamp Demo Day in Singapore, we saw two startups – Singapore-based Flocations and Trafflers of Indonesia – putting their spin on travel. Here’s another newish Singapore-based travel startup, Qiito (www.qiito.com), that looks at travel from a different perspective.
While many startups tries to solve the issue of picking the right travel destinations, selecting airlines or simplifying the hassle of group bookings, Qiito comes from the social angle of letting its users compile and build a personalized travel journal, complete with images and location. Users can also peruse and “adopt” travelogues compiled by others, making the sharing of travel experiences a lot more social. “Qiito is designed to make trip discovery, planning an immensely enjoyable and trouble-free process,” says founder Pei-Han Chuang. “Although there are numerous startups aiming to do the same thing and serving same market by providing a planning platform, (the site is) designed and catered to help users from discovery phase to research and planning, and covering part of sharing.”
Qiito – whose name is inspired from the Hokkien dialect words that mean “to play” and also can mean “sure, most definitely” in Japanese – is like Pinterest in a way that it provides a visual way to discover travel destinations, but allows users to add and tag more information for more comprehensive information. This, says Chuang, gets people “motivated to go”.
Startup Up – A Journey Or A Destination?
Chuang admits that Qiito currently doesn’t have a revenue model as yet. “We would want to serve users to best first, then bringing in a new way and cost effective ways to travel industry which my team has been working on,” he explains. A S$2.2 million investment from Japan’s Lunar Asia should provide a healthy runway as the 16-man startup looks for a way to monetize the site.
“The biggest problem for us or a startup in innovation is there is no example, nor model for us to follow,” Chuang shares. He adds that this iteration of Qiito is actually its third version since 2011, having scrapped its previous two versions even before launch. “We study other sites a lot, in order to move fast and learn from other sites’ mistakes. By studying them closely helped us evolve faster and become what we are now.”