Firef.ly is a mobile app that aims to distill the best of trip planning, travel guides, journalling and social sharing with an e-commerce component that offers personalized, one-of-a-kind mementos. Once launched, it will all be wrapped within a beautiful intuitive user experience, designed for today’s smartphone-enabled traveller.
Firef.ly passively and actively stitches together the most important moments of any trip into a digital story of your travels. Your Firef.ly trail is your GPS location which we would use to elegantly blend these moments into a map over time.
We at Firef.ly see a huge gap in the travel market for someone who looks at the entire lifecycle of travel and connects the dots. We aim to build a massively scalable travel ecosystem that consolidates the fragmentation currently seen in the travel sector.
Our user base is an engaged mix of consumers and B2B giving us rare stability and insight in the travel sector.
The strength of the Firef.ly app lies in its holistic approach to travel. It is being designed to offer all the following functionality on one single platform:
- Provides a platform for travellers to search and explore a curated list of locations top sights/restaurants/bars/travel points of interest.
- Offers a platform for capturing travel moments: note taking, photos, videos, audio, points of interest, weather, elevation, etc.
- It’s social, where users can engage with the Firef.ly community, create groups, and share special moments with close friends and family. There would also be the ability to share those travel moments to their traditional social-media channels and also blogging platforms.
- Firef.ly wants to have partnerships with companies to produce mementos of people’s travels. For example, creating a poster based on travel moments you’ve captured; photo books; ability to send postcards to your friends etc.
- One of our aims within the Firef.ly network is to promote local businesses that offer high-quality services and products. Our content editors would seek partnerships with and also highlight independent business that offer uniqueness or represent the character and culture of a particular location. They are the ‘hidden gems’ that travellers delight in finding and will recommend to all their friends.
- Sharing Local Culture. Firef.ly is also, in its essence, a social tool. It relies on sharing of knowledge and experiences. When situated in the context of travel, this can lead to a broadening of horizons and an exchange of local culture. The effect of this is not quantifiable in terms of a monetary standpoint but rather a cultural one.
- From a B2B perspective, we plan to be able to aggregate users’ data and offer marketing tools and deep insights on potential customers to businesses, tourism bodies and marketing organisations.
Substantial accomplishments to date
- Firef.ly was awarded a £388,298 equity-free grant by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board for the Innovation in location-based services brief. We will be partnering with Goldsmiths, Univ. of London as part of the grant. http://bit.ly/1qHq189
- Accepted into Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Spring 2015.
- Part of London’s Travel Tech Incubator (over 600 applied we are 1 of 30 accepted).
- Broad Design, UX & Branding work completed.
- We have Letters of Intents to partner with and use our app from:
• 8th Day Adventures (www.8thdayadventure.co.uk)
• Visit England (www.visitengland.com)
• Singapore Tourism Board (www.stb.gov.sg) (pending)
- We have received press coverage from:
• Skift - http://bit.ly/1yaBQ3O
• Google Campus - http://goo.gl/vO2f6Q
• TTG - http://bit.ly/15NyNbb
- Firef.ly was invited to the 2014 TNW boost conference.
- Our alpha signups (www.firef.ly) has registered 570+ people, with no significant marketing spend, all generated via organic, word-of-mouth growth.
- Have an internal demo built and running on 10 handsets.
- Firef.ly made it to the final 2% of applicants in the Spring TechStars competition.
We are passionate about growing a viable long-term business that makes a real impact in the industry. Firef.ly’s business approach is to use multiple avenues to create revenue but to also bring business to affiliate companies and the wider economy.
We aim to monetize through multiple revenue/profit models:
- E-commerce, affiliate programs
- B2B Marketing Data Analytics
Primary revenues will come from a freemium subscription model for consumers and anonymized data B2B model to sell to businesses, tourism organisations and marketing organisations.
Secondary streams would come from a commerce shop (travel mementos), in-app purchases (travel tools, travel insurance, posters, etc), ebooks, and affiliates relationship for deals.
We intend to build a massively scalable travel ecosystem for a passionate travel community that consolidates the fragmentation currently seen in the travel market place. We will do so by leveraging all the benefits digital has to offer.
Use of proceeds
The primary focus of this early stage of Firef.ly is to ensure we have a good product-market fit. The product must meet a need and engage users, and be recommended by our users to others.
For the initial phase, the Firef.ly app will be developed, tested and refined through working with 8th day adventurists and travel bloggers/writers, and other early adopters. Product-market fit is expected to be proven through exponential increasing numbers of users. Feedback from our early adopters is anticipated to allow us to build a robust app which is ready for market. This will lead us to our next phase, which will to be to officially launch and grow the business.
The forecast budget is split between development (56%), creative work (16%), content (11%), rent (5%), tech infrastructure (2%), marketing (2%), travel (3%), finance (2%), and other (3%).
The majority of the money raised will go to paying our staff’s salaries, they will be key to building and delivering a great product that people want to use.
There are more travellers, taking more trips than ever. Last year there were 26 million travellers to London alone, with £12 billion spent in the capital. Despite a downturn in the global market, there were over 1 billion international tourist arrivals in 2013 and that number is rising.
In contrast, the printed guidebook market is decreasing fast. A Skift article shows that sales have dropped by 40% for the top-5 guidebook publishers in the US, to a combined value of US$78 million in 2012. In Australia, where Lonely Planet consistently captures over 60% of the market, sales have also dropped by 32% between 2010 and 2012.
In contrast, in 2014, the number of smartphone users has been forecasted at 1.75 billion worldwide with 60% of users who have downloaded a travel app. With smartphones becoming a multinational, multigenerational and affordable tool, it is no surprise that there has been a shift in the market and travellers are going online to fulfil their travel needs and share experiences.
With faster cellular networks and more affordable data rates, coupled with increasingly powerful smartphone technology, Firef.ly aims create a travel app for the large pool of smartphone-enabled travellers.
Lonely Planet says that their mobile apps have been downloaded 11-million times. Despite their trusted brands, printed guidebooks admit that are failing to integrate into the digital space and there is no dominant player. The new Lonely Planet CEO sums up the current guidebook market. “The technology to do just that exists, of course, but neither Lonely Planet nor any of its competitors has got a handle on [it] yet. No one seems to know what, exactly, the guidebook of the future should look like.”
Firef.ly aims to solve this problem and create the travel tool for the future.
Characteristics of target market
More than 1 billion people travelled in 2013, with 26 million travellers visiting London. Together, they spent £12 billion spent in the capital. Asia will be important. According to a UNWTO, China now leads the world in travel spending and numbers. There are also 5 Asia-Pacific countries in the top 15 list of travel spending. As such, we have also incorporated an office in Singapore.
Smartphone & App Usage Data:
• Smartphone users expected to number 1.75 billion in 2014.
• In 2011, 60% of smartphone users downloaded a travel app.
• As of June 2014, the Apple store has had 75 billion app downloads.
From this data, it is abundantly clear that there is a market for travel and apps to go hand-in-hand.
Further relevant target market statistics (from Lonely Planet):
• Male/Female: 50% / 50%
• Average age: 25 - 35
• Well-travelled: 1 in 10 lonely planet users takes 6+ international trips in 2 years
• Educated: UK: 72% have a degree or professional qualification
• Household income: UK: 41% have a household income of >£50,000
We intend to have a staged roll-out of our product.
Alpha Phase (9 months)
We plan to release product in staged 3 month releases to a select group of users. This group would give us a foundation for extensive testing of the app in order to fix bugs, add functionality and refine the product. This Alpha group will also spread early word of mouth about Firef.ly.
8th day adventurists
• Travel bloggers (we will also leverage their extended networks)
• Travel writers (our editorial director has worked for Lonely Planet and has access to networks of travel writers)
• Our current list of 570+ signups
• Working with our B2B customers Visit England and Singapore Tourism Board
Beta Phase (3-6 months)
We will use targeted acquisition tools like https://bufferapp.com/ and http://tweepi.com/ to allow us to identify the correct group of users and target them. In this phase it will be all about finding and pleasing our core product evangelists. Even if this is not scaleable we will put personalized effort around these key early trendsetters. These and other growth hacks and word-of-mouth, organic growth tactics will be employed with the help of our networks and our key advisors.
After this first year we will have worked very hard on our product market fit and expect to have learned enough to have a robust Version 1 ready for official distribution.
We have set aside 10% of our budget for marketing costs throughout this process to play our hand in some of the more traditional marketing areas.
Beyond a ‘good’ idea, a successful startup also requires people with the relevant skills to build it out. Our team’s depth and breadth of experience provides a good foundation for which to build the app. Each core member has an impressive and relevant resume which fits the needs and requirements for building the Firef.ly app.
Enjoyable User Experience + Beautiful design:
With a strong, award-winning background in developing UX and design, our team will craft an app that is beautiful to look at, yet intuitive and easy to use. Combining these two elements is key to building a successful app which encourages repeat usage.
We don't believe that any of our competitors look at the entire life cycle of travel in the way Firef.ly looks at the problem. Firef.ly's playful deep-tech approach to travel integrates trip planning, guides, maps, journals, and social sharing with an e-commerce component offering personalized, one-of-a-kind mementos.
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