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Inspitrip is a platform to connect travellers with locals for a personalized experience. Starting with Alex’s idea, Inspitrip has become the most important and passionate project of InspiLab.

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You have an idea

This is the most exciting phase. You probably can’t sleep thinking about the idea everyday. You can't stop picturing how your product would be successful and solve real issues.

In 2015, Alex climbed up the Fansipan, the highest mountain in Indochina, with a local minority guide named Pe. Later he found out that Pe only got paid 10% of what he had paid to the agency that he booked Pe with. Alex thought that was unfair because Pe was the one who put in the hard work and should have been rewarded accordingly. Local guides in Asia like Pe, however, are usually treated unfairly by the agencies.

Upon his return to Sydney, Alex had an idea: “Why don’t I just build a company that directly connects travellers to locals in South East Asia?” By doing that, we can cut out the middleman and give travellers direct access to locals who share the beauty of their city. A company that would help a lot of travellers like Alex to experience this region through the eyes of the locals, a thing that they cannot get from any group tours.

Alex on “Why I started the idea”

  • I want someone to show me anywhere I want, but I don’t know how to find someone like that.
  • I can help the locals in Asia earn extra income and create responsible travel.
  • I don’t want to regret not having a gut to follow my idea.

But do you have a market?

This is the phase where you will decide whether to follow your idea or not. Do a bit research to validate your idea. If it stands out and has competitive advantages, why not?

When I started the project, Asia was (and still) the fastest growing region in the world. Oil price was at its record low which made traveling more accessible than ever. There are more travellers coming to Asia and Bangkok was named the most visited city in the world. I believe travel market in Asia is growing at unprecedented speed and sooner or later travellers will realise they need to get off the beaten path to fully explore the hidden charm of this region. Also, travellers often face with language barrier in Asia where English is not widely used. For all the above reasons, I believe that my venture has market potential.

What do you need to build?

This is the most exciting phase - you start designing your own product. You will need a team and you all will spend hours learning about your competitors and sketching the first Minimal Viable Product (MVP).

What we've learned

Build a good team first:

Make sure to build a good rounded team where everyone can bring something on the table. “My team members have changed at least 3 times,” said Alex, “it took me about a year to have a good stable team. During that time, I had to let some people go including some founding members because they didn’t fit or commit to the project. I did end up with the right ones, that’s the most important.”

Start with competitors to build your MVP:

When first started, we benchmarked ours with competitors’ and we were confident our look was much more sleek. We later found out that although our site did look good, it was not convenient for users. Also, the features made the site look good actually slowed down the website. Alex finally understood why his competitors went for simpler design - simpler is better.

Release your Minimal Viable Product (MVP)

You will start feeling the heat at this stage. Your product is ready to be tested. If you are lucky to have people tried your products, there will be loads of bugs and you will receive a lot of feedback (mostly complaints). This is the reality check for your idea.

What we’ve learned:

Don’t listen to your users, observe them:

We received good feedback for the MVP - users said they loved it. However, the trial rates kept decreasing and there were barely any return customers, including those saying they loved the website and definitely wanted to use it. This was because the site was beautiful but user experience was not great. So don’t listen to what your users said, instead, observe what they do and adjust your product accordingly.

Learn and quickly adapt to new changes:

The more we work on the project, the more issues we realise that we have to face, and most of which we are not familiar with. Take digital marketing as an example. Alex is a finance guy and marketing is something that he was not familiar or confident doing. However, he took on the challenges and learned new skills such as SEO and realised he actually loved the work.

Growth or Death

This is the deciding stage - whether you grow or you die. You have been doing this for a while, if you don’t acquire and convert users quickly enough, you will be demotivated and start doubting yourself.

what we’ve learned:

Find the channels that help you growth and try to scale them:

We were lucky to start with one small channel that brought us bookings from day 1. However, the number of traffics going through there were small and not scalable. In the next year, we worked hard to find a channel that brings us customers. We tracked all the stats daily and ensured we understood and valuated them properly. If a channel did not bring in conversion, we stopped and moved on. For those that worked, we came up with plans how to scale them. That’s how we grow.

Ensure to have enough funding and a good team:

As a start-up, you don’t have money to spare, so every dollar counts. Make sure, all the money will be poured into something that can return value. However, the most important thing is to ensure every team member understand our common goals and work hard towards them. In the end, they are the one who build your dreams.

Building a successful a start-up is like climbing a mountain:

You can’t do it by yourself. And, either you reach the summit or you fail, no such thing in the middle.