Friday, September 7, 2012

I have a week off, where should I go next?

Travel is relaxing and probably the best 2 or 3 weeks in your year.  However, figuring out where to go in those 2 or 3 weeks can be mind-numbing and stressful.  This is typically 2 to 3 months before you actually fly out.  Where do you even start?  Go to Google and type where should I go?  That won't work, trust us.

So how about a magazine like experience that brings you collages of destinations that are best suited to you?  And to further personalize this, how about showing you pictures from people you know and trust?  Don't you love seeing your friends' pictures on Facebook anyway?

We call this the "Dream" experience in Traverie!  When you log into Traverie, you can click on the "Dream" tab on the top that will take you directly to the dream experience.  We pick a different destination each time that is best suited to your taste!  And we figure a lot of this out based on your past travel behavior that you shared through your albums, checkins and status updates on Facebook!  To see more destinations simply flip to the next destination by clicking the - yes - "Next Destination" on the top right.  Don't worry you can always go back using the "Prev" button.


In the dream, mode you can see collages from different friends' travels to a destination.  For example, above I can see photos of Kyoto from my five different trips my friends took there.  You'll find that your friends travel quite differently and you'll discover amazing experiences through them.

If you come across a photo or destination that you really like, you can simply save it for the future!  You can hover your mouse over that photo and click "Add to {Destination} Bucket List".  Or you can click on the photo that will take you to a single photo view, where you can click "Want to go".  Once you have added a photo, you automatically create a "Bucket List" for that destination!


You can always access your created "Bucket Lists" from the drop down on the header as shown below.  So start dreaming and creating bucket lists for all these amazing destinations your friends have been to and you never knew about!




Thursday, September 6, 2012

I wonder where my friends have been ...

Ever wonder where your friends have traveled to? Or which of your friends have been to Barcelona or New Zealand? Or even better what if you could see what your friends' travel experiences were for those trips?

Traverie helps you with these questions and more. Our mission is to help you "Explore Travel Through Friends" in a way thats natural and fun. We don't want you to dig through Facebook to find this information or get a headache with search results and reviews you don't trust.

After you log into Traverie, the "Map" tab represents a view of the world through your and your friends' travels.  You can click on the buttons next to "YOU" and "YOUR FRIENDS" to select or unselect any of the options.  By default all options are selected.  (Note initially the orange "Want to go" and pink "Visiting" tabs won't do anything.  Only after you start creating "Bucket Lists" will they appear.)  We always get this question so I thought I'll clarify this - the strip of photos you see below are picked for you based on recency and relevancy - think of this as our initial version of a visual newsfeed!



The blue bubbles represents where your friends have been and live!  The size of the bubble indicates how many of your friends have been there or live there - the bigger the bubble the more popular the place. You'll probably find cities such as New York and London have large blue bubbles.  You can click on any of these blue bubbles to see which of your friends have been there and get a glimpse of their experience.  If any friends do live there, they'll show up as well (not shown in the example below)!


You can click into any of these pictures from your friend's travels to that destination, to bring up what we call the "Dream" destination view.  Here (see below) you can see all of your friends that have been there at the top.  The first friend in the strip is selected by default, and you see a beautiful collage of her travel experiences.  We try and highlight the photos we think are best for you here!  Such as the shark diving pictures from my friend Joshua below!  And of course you can click into any of those photos.


This is just one of many ways to dream and discover on Traverie.  Try this out today at www.traverie.com for South Africa or any of the destinations that your friends have been to! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Yet another tech travel startup?

Another tech travel startup?  That's the first sentiment I get when I talk to investors or someone in the industry.

Here's what makes us different: Our team and our passion. Wait a minute, doesn't every founder say that about his team? Of course. Can most of them back it up with experiences that have made up their life so far? Probably not. So let me tell you a little bit about us, at the risk of sounding conceited. But I think it is important. We won't talk about our experience, since you can find that here.

I grew up in Mumbai, India and I still clearly remember that one class in middle school where my teacher described her trip to Machu Pichu and I still bother my wife about making a trip there soon. I stood first in Geography and History in India in high school and growing up I had three dreams - to become an astronaut.  to travel the world and to create a teleporting machine. I failed miserably at the first, clearly. I think I'm starting to realize the second having traveled to 5 continents and 26 countries in the past 5 years while being fully employed. As a child I was obsessed with building things and my favorite was an airport Lego set. Traverie is realizing my third dream of building a teleporting-like machine for everyone!

It doesn't end there. I met my wife in San Francisco, but only fell in love with her when we started traveling the world together. And guess what my wife does for a living?  Of course she's in the hospitality industry. We have a running joke between us - there is not a single day when someone in our immediate families is not traveling! We got married two years ago in Goa, a Portugese beach destination, after convincing our parents to have a destination wedding. I don't think either of us ever imagined getting married anywhere but in a beach destination! And that's where Tiffany comes in.

Founder stories are usually not that fun - high school buddies, co-workers etc. But this is how I met Tiffany. She showed up at my wedding in Goa, her first trip to India, as a plus-one.  Not only did she show up across the globe not knowing me or my wife, but she danced on stage to choreographed Bollywood music with my wife - talk about indulging in the culture! After that she traveled to Delhi where she stayed with my sister enroute to Agra and Jaipur. I've not met too may people who have traveled as much as Tiffany has at such a young age.  What are the most interesting stories I found?  Her determination to make a trip to Cuba by sneaking into the country through Mexico and her flying over Victoria Falls in Zambia.

Jimming, our technical co-founder, has the most incredible stories that we only find out through casual conversations. I only recently found out that Jimming was building the official Harvard "facebook" while Zuck was building the unofficial one. Other mysteries I did not know about Jimming - he swam from Alcatraz to SF, loves diving across the world with Belize being his favorite destination (he's currently diving in the Yucatan peninsula) and he had a six-pack at the age of 13. When I first got to know him, I remember him telling me that he travels pretty much every other weekend since his family is spread across the entire country. And what's more, he went all the way to Europe to buy his car and drive it on the Autobahn.

In all, we have traveled to over 50 countries and over 25 each. People who have helped us include a Berkeley MBA student, Sanjay, who has traveled to 66 countries and our summer social media intern, Jennie, who lived in places such as China, Ecuador and Singapore in the past year while studying at Berkeley.  You probably get how passionate we are.

You've often heard that its great when the founders are the end users of their product. Not only are we the end users, we are extreme, critical users who have personally faced the challenge of discovering and making decisions about travels with the plethora of data available. What incepted the idea?  I was planning a trip to India and Singapore and we wanted to take a side trip for a week. After weeks of hunting through two dozen sites and buying books, we were more confused than ever. Talking to a friend who travels like crazy made our decision certain, trusted and quick. Tiffany and Jimming have their own interesting or rather depressing stories of travel discovery and decision making. And once we started asking around we found that almost everyone makes their decision using their friend's advice!

We believe there is no better educational experience than delving into the history, culture, people and food of different places. And we want every single person to experience that! What does our "office" climate feel like - we probably spend a couple of hours everyday just talking about our different travel experiences and dreaming together. Join us on our journey at www.traverie.com!

Happy travels,
Gaurav