Monthly Archives: May 2011

Out and about in Melbourne, spreading the word

Since rome2rio launched, we’ve received advice from various people in the startup and travel tech industries about rome2rio, and how we can improve the product going forward. The advice has been invaluable and offered freely. So it’s only fair that we do our bit and pass the knowledge we’ve learnt to others. Ed and I had a chance to do this by speaking at the Student Entrepreneurs Dinner last week. The organization is trying to help boost the startup scene here in Melbourne amongst the student community, which is great to see. 

Se-dinner

Bernie and I also spoke about rome2rio on SYN Radio, a community station operated out of RMIT University. It was really another opportunity to plug rome2rio, but was also an entertaining experience. You can list to the podcast of Andy Szollosi and Ciara Glover interviewing us here.

P1300846

 


 

Ed Hooper joins rome2rio as BizDev

We are excited to announce a new member of the rome2rio team. Ed Hooper will be joining us part-time as Business Development Manager. 

Ed-pics

Ed is a business-minded technology enthusiast and no stranger to the world of startups. For the past four years he has been working with startups, and for large enterprise as a product manager at the ANZ Bank and student partner at Microsoft.

In 2008, Ed won the Microsoft Imagine Cup with the sustainable farming startup SOAK. He is now a judge for the competition – last week he was in Sydney for the regional finals and he will be visiting New York for the world finals in July.

Bernie and I met Ed at the BizSpark Startup Camp earlier this year. We quickly discovered Ed’s talent for getting himself out there, on radio, television, or in print. He’s not afraid to sneak into Stanford and ask Steve Balmer a question. We are sure he will do a great job of helping us promote rome2rio, establish new partnerships and develop a roadmap for improving the product.

Ed is also a passionate traveller; a big plus for anyone involved with a travel tech startup. He has travelled the world for business, for pleasure, and to share his experiences with students.

Ed-tv

rome2rio launch analysis

A few weeks ago Bernie and I visited San Francisco to kick off the launch of the beta version of rome2rio. The launch went well and we received a healthy spike in traffic, some great user feedback, and interest from a variety of potential partners. We also learnt a lot during the few weeks we spent in the US. We put our tools down and were busy networking and meeting a range of interesting people who offered plenty of advice.

The launch was kicked off on April 7th with articles on Techcrunch and Venture Beat. rome2rio also featured on Tnooz, the most prominent travel tech news site. The story was then picked up by a variety of news sites including Fast Company, Lifehacker, ReadWriteWeb, Thrillist, and Travolution. The most exciting and surprising coverage, however, was being featured on KSTP, a television station in the Twin Cities region of Minneapolis and Saint Paul:

Kstp

We also discovered plenty of coverage from foreign languages sites. We’ve had a jolly time reading the translated “googlish” reviews. This Italian blog post described our coverage and says “That should be enough to help us design the majority of travel and holidays, unless we go to very remote places or unknown to the human race.” A Chinese write-up translates to “so we need to do is the other side, from the airport to where you want, do not let us vacation at the airport.”

Our traffic spiked during the launch and our servers handled it pretty well, despite our hardware load balancer sadly falling over for about 30 minutes when the Techcrunch article went out. Since the launch the traffic has plateaued at around 800 – 1000 unique users a day; clearly we’ve still got our work cut out for us to build a large enough user base for rome2rio to be a profitable business. But it’s a good start. We’ve got plenty of exciting improvements in the pipeline, and the site will only get better in coming year.

We now have plenty of user activity log data from the launch. We extracted out the ten most popular destinations input into rome2rio:

London: 914
Paris: 891
New York: 752
Rome: 645
Barcelona: 529
San Francisco: 423
Rio de Janeiro: 404
Amsterdam: 377
Sydney: 351
Madrid: 350
Las Vegas: 350

I’m guessing Rome and Rio de Janeiro were on people’s minds when they tried the site. We’ve pulled plenty of other interesting statistics from the logs, but I’ll save more pretty graphs for another blog post. Anything in particular you’d like to see analysed?