Gtrot, Looking to Create Social Travel Guides, Better Maps Friends’ Globetrotting Plans
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see which restaurants, hotels, and tourist spots friends checked out in foreign cities, based on the real-time thoughts friends are already sharing via these online tools. Smith says this version of gtrot will also help give more of a shelf life to these online musings, which often get quickly buried on users’ social media profiles beneath more recent updates. “They’re not optimized for longer-term sharing; it’s sort of a black hole of information,” Smith says.
Gtrot is focusing intently on product development and customer acquisition now, though Smith says the latter has come about pretty organically. The site launched on December 12, 2009, mainly marketing to friends at Harvard, and had 700 users by New Year’s, Smith says. The team started with $15,000 it won from the aforementioned Harvard I3 business competition last spring, and worked through the summer on getting the website live. The competition also gave them office space in Harvard Square, and some legal help. Most of the gtrot team works out of New York right now, and the startup is gearing up to raise institutional funding.
The company currently brings in some money through travel that is booked through the Kayak and Hotels.com plug-ins on the site (which come at no extra cost to users), Smith says. It’s looking to make most of its money from advertisements as its user base swells. “Ultimately, we’re going to have a massive portfolio of user travel plans,” he says.
He’s looking to partner with organizations that can enrich users’ travel experiences. For example, the site could connect consumers with a Groupon—the fast-growing source of group-powered discounts for entertainment, food, and salon-type venues—for a particular destination they’ve logged on gtrot. “To the extent that we can provide value-added recommendations but also monetize those, it’s a win-win for everyone,” Smith says.