TLabs Showcase – TripLingo
Posted by Dennis Schaal on 26 May 2011
TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based mobile translation service TripLingo.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
TripLingo is an Atlanta based company that upgrades trips for business and leisure travelers by making it easy and fun to learn the local language and culture. TripLingo creates a customized phrase list for individual users to help them focus on critical phrases and information on the local culture. Currently, TripLingo is available on iOS, with support for other platforms coming soon.
TripLingo was founded on the following principals:
• Recognition that every individual and every trip is unique, and that the phrases you learn should be adjusted accordingly
• Belief that language-learning is most effective and interesting when you’re learning things of interest to you and learning how to use the language like people actually use it (instead of overly formal classroom materials, for instance)
• Understanding that language and culture are intimately connected, and that learning the language can assist in understanding the culture, and vice versa
CEO and founder Jesse Maddox spent two years living in Vietnam and India, and experienced the pain and frustration of not knowing the local language first-hand.
This proved the genesis of the idea, and the TripLingo team formed in January at Startup Weekend in Atlanta, where they were voted “best in show.” Following Start Atlanta, TripLingo was chosen the winner amongst 49 other startups at Startup Riot one month later in Atlanta.
Our team of seven includes:
• Jesse Maddox, CEO
• Ross Rankin, COO
• Pratik Patel, CTO
• Vince Baskerville, VP of Production
• James Martin, Creative Director
• Katie Elizabeth, CMO
• Dan Nussenbaum, Jr Engineer
Describe the business, core products and services?
TripLingo was built from the ground-up with travelers in mind, and every feature has been designed with travelers in mind.
One of our most unique features is that we create a customized phrase list for each user based on unique interests, planned activities, and personality. This helps you focus on the phrases you actually need- no more searching through thousands of phrases to find the right one.
For each phrase, TripLingo includes:
• Two audio examples per phrase (one pronounced slowly to aid in pronunciation)
• Phonetic spelling of the phrase
• A culture tip that helps you understand the proper context for the phrase and additional insights related to that specific country
Beyond just phrases, there’s an intelligent learning system with built-in flashcards that tracks your progress and includes a customized algorithm to maximize your learning time.
TripLingo also includes a dictionary, word bank (with grouped words), written articles on the local culture, and more. No internet connection is required.
Currently the apps are available in the Apple Appstore for $4.99 – $9.99 per country/language combination. Android and Windows Phone are in beta modes, and a web-based version will be launching soon.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
At launch and immediately afterwards, our key customers include individuals who are planning or plan to travel internationally for business or leisure. TripLingo is also a great refresher for those who have studied a language before, and the app is also useful to non-travelers who frequently interact with those from foreign cultures.
Moving forward, we plan to also work with select brands to enhance the value they offer their own customers, such as airlines, hotel chains, and cruise lines.
To these companies we offer an economical way for them to differentiate their offerings, greatly enhance their customer experience, and strengthen their own brand. Best of all, working with us delivers impact straight to their bottom-line without increased costs.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
• A weapons grade team committed to success. A unique approach to language-learning perfectly suited for travelers. Patent-pending technologies around our core differentiators.
• Less well-capitalized than some major competitors. New to market, thus less brand awareness.
• Travel is an enormous market, and the increase in culturally aware travellers is directly related to travellers seeking to understand the culture and learn some of the lingo. As individuals seek more unique, exotic, and personalized travel experiences, the demand for applications like ours will only rise. This is especially true considering the dramatic increase in smartphone penetration.
• Inability to execute on key deals in our pipeline or being too resource-constrained to capitalize on opportunities.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Our goal is to be on every traveler’s packing list and to change the way people travel by engaging them in the local language and culture. As a company, our goal is to be cash flow positive within a year.
As individuals, there’s nothing more satisfying than getting feedback from users whose experience traveling has been changed by your effort. Our goal is to have that impact on at least 250K travelers within the next year.
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