This week I went and visited Chad Cribbins from Firef.ly at the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator. The White Lake Team at the moment are visiting what we consider to be the top 50 start-up and growth stage companies in London. (Get on our list – firstname.lastname@example.org).
Google tried to mess up the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator by putting them on the wrong place on Google maps (or else, I wrote the wrong address...never!...) However, once I had rumbled this Google stunt and was half an hour late: I made it. It’s well located near Monument and with everyone tightly packed like sardines, happy and smiling. It is a nice environment for budding entrepreneurs. There is potential for overheating in the summer with all the brain power going on however; small price to pay.
Chad’s company has an interesting technology offering currently being built where they provide an end to end diary/booking/attractions picking/etc. solution to travelers – pick the attractions you want to see, book it, and then collect photos etc. and document the whole trip in one place. Chad has picked up the current trend of “Everyone has too many apps and need to use multiple ones at the one time and it’s getting annoying; hence app aggregation is now a play” and has built Firef.ly around this idea. They also however have some very neat tech: telematics positional monitoring that doesn’t need to use the GPS function as much as other thus draining your battery (they are already licensing this). Also I really liked his idea of separating personal diary entries on a trip from the social diary Facebook entries otherwise known as “the brag” (We all know them the “Look how great I am, I am on holidays entries”).
His revenue model is challenging; eschewing the affiliate or sponsored selling to maintain absolute independence and the ability to promote smaller esoteric places of interest, Chad is going to create revenue by selling big data insights from his clients. So there is no advertising on the website nor a restaurant getting in as a recommendation because they paid. These would be the easy ways outs, but go against his vision and ethos.
I look forward with interest to see how Chad and Firef.ly develops. It won’t be easy of course. He is building a great team and has raised initial funds on Seedr. I would like to see firef.ly hit the larger VCs giving their growing team more funds to build their all-encompassing travel app to completion. I hope he gets there.
By John Rowland, Managing Partner