We catch up with a co-founder of Kate's Goodness, the app that crowdsources local travel tips and presents them in an easy-to-use manner.
Travelling to a new city in the age of TripAdvisor can overwhelm users with the seemingly infinite options — restaurants, bars, hotels, sights, ‘hidden gems’, best views of the city, best bike riding routes… the list goes on. The idea of travel, for some, has become an event with such high expectations, so thoroughly researched and well-planned, that it may as well be Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. On the one side, the joy of serendipity, and of ‘getting lost’, has almost completely vanished with GPS technology, but on the other, users are more able to get exactly what they want, satisfying their personalized, unique consumer needs.
That’s when the Kate’s Goodness app comes in. With an Instagram-esque layout, the app is an evolving stream of each city’s “goodness” — up-to-date recommendations by locals, which remedies the excess of internet noise by presenting their favorites in the form of a single picture, a short, intimate description, and a location map. It also crowdsources ‘votes’ from visitors of those destinations, so the recommendations become more reliable as more users sign up to the app.
We first came across Kate’s Goodness a year ago, and since then, they have officially launched in the App Store, doubled their user base within one month, and increased their library of posts by nearly 20%. They’ve also expanded their community of contributors, adding hundreds of locals, and their email subscribers grew three-fold. (We were happy when told by Daniel Avrutsky, one of the co-founders, that their Springwise article back in January 2015 had a similar effect.)
“There is no tool in the App Store today that helps people discover goodness in an intuitive way, using short curated friend-like recommendations,” Daniel says when asked about the reason for their success. “We have all sorts of mechanisms and technology to source ‘Goodness’ locations and compel our contributors to share their hidden treasures.” An interesting aspect of the app is the ‘Goodness currency.’ The app’s stock exchange element sees users acquiring and selling articles to enhance their portfolio and in-app status, trading ‘Goodness Gold’ between users — one business or local spot can only be ‘acquired’ by one user. But on the whole, Daniels explains that it comes down to being able to “step off the plane and feel like a local in-the-know anywhere you go.”
What’s more, a focus on the blogger culture, providing a platform for local personalities known for their good taste, extensive experiences and knowledge, is what sets Kate’s Goodness apart from user-generated recommendations prevalent in most travel guide apps and websites. Additionally, the startup can tap into an already established fan base and social media following from these personalities.
In terms of new challenges that arose, the team took some development aspects of the app in-house, instead of outsourcing it all off-shore. “As a result, we’ve become much more efficient, agile, and cost efficient in our development process,” Daniel tells us. However, they are actively looking for senior talent to take the company to the next level.
“To start a project is easy,” he adds, “An idea, some money and off you go. To develop something that people want to use is much harder.” Daniel explains how finding talent and maintaining focus on a project is hard. Equally, he tells us of the struggle with dealing with daily rejections, while also motivating the team, and not getting immediate gratification. “But, at the end, when someone has a great travel / human experience, it makes it all worthwhile. The most important thing is to be passionate about what you do.”
When it comes to the fear of failure — which no doubt exists in every entrepreneur’s head — Daniel is extremely positive. “There are no failures, just learning experiences. My biggest learning is that to succeed one needs to be able to rely on other people and trust other people. One needs to be able to delegate and accept that there are things that you don’t know (and then there are things that you don’t know you don’t know). Great ideas and products result from teamwork, and having the right team for the right idea is 100% failure proof. We are not there yet, but we are building such a team, and we are building such a product.”
In the near future, the startup wants to build a more streamlined connection between posts in the app and bloggers’ content, and create a culture of Goodness Gold, awarding contributors with “The most influential theater expert in Berlin” or “The leading global authority on coffee shops”. Daniel adds, “Our long term goal is to build a global community of people who share and appreciate Goodness, enabling anyone and everyone with a mobile phone to have rewarding, quality experiences across the world and in their home town.”
Find our more about Kate’s Goodness here.
13th January 2016