Friday, March 23, 2012

Rome2Rio profile: exchange with Rome2Rio founder Michael Cameron

Below is a Q&A exchange with Rome2Rio founder Michael Cameron (pictured left with co-founder Bernie Tschirren). This is an instalment in my profile series on Australian travel search start-ups.

BOOT: Date founded

Cameron: September 2011

BOOT: Name of founders

Cameron: Michael Cameron and Bernie Tschirren

BOOT: Name of backers/investors

Cameron: None to date

BOOT: How much money have you raised

Cameron: Nothing, so far we are bootstrapped.

BOOT: Description of the business

Cameron: Rome2rio is a platform for organizing and searching the world's travel information. We have built a unique repository of train, bus, ferry and air routes across the globe. Users of the site can discover how to get to any city, town, or landmark - rome2rio will show several alternatives routes by air, rail, bus, boat and car.

BOOT: What is the revenue model

Cameron: Our consumer site makes revenue through hotel and rental car commissions. We also receive revenue from airline and transport provider affiliate programs. Going forward, we also aim to make revenue through partnerships licensing rome2rio's search technology and transport repository.

BOOT: Any success metrics you are happy to share (traffic levels, customer numbers, revenue numbers, number of searches)

Cameron: In January we recorded our 1 millionth query, and broke 120,000 unique users for the month. We marked this milestone with a blog post.

Something you learnt along the way

We've been surprised by the popularity of rome2rio in India; rome2rio has received more Indian visitors than visitors from any other one country. We believe this is due to a number of factors, including a burgeoning middle class and popularity of rail travel in the subcontinent. Also, rome2rio so far has received most of its visitors from English speaking countries, so we have started work on translating the site.

BOOT: Something you wish you had done differently in launching a business

Cameron: So far, on the whole, we're happy with the approach we've taken to launching rome2rio. We launched the site early, with a minimum viable product, and used lean start-up principles to iterate and refine the product. As the product has developed and gained traction with users, we've now started to focus on the business model.

BOOT: What's next for the business. What are you working on that is exciting

Cameron: We're continuing to add more transport to the site. We recently added trains in Japan and Sri Lanka. Coverage in Australia has been expanded too. We almost have complete rail coverage, so we'll be focusing on adding more bus and ferry routes this year. We also plan to add support for building complex, multi-hop itineraries; a feature that has been requested by several users.

BOOT: Favourite non-travel website

Cameron: Who can go past the amazing digital resource of Wikipedia?

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