Our start-up of the week is Gaybrhood, a real-time travel market and city guide tailored for the $60bn LGBT market.
Gaybrhood.com is a real-time crowdsourced gay city guide, co-founded by Chris Fildes and Danny Lane.
“It’s automatically populated through our users like and events on social media,” explained co-founder Chris Fildes.
“This gives a live, up-to-date guide of the best things happening in a city according to the people who know it best – the local gay community.”
‘We want to be the Grindr of going out!’
– CHRIS FILDES, GAYBRHOOD
Gaybrhood provides a real-time up-to-date overview on what to do in a city and where the local gay and lesbian community are socialising and hanging out; information is automatically crowdsourced from people who live in the city or have visited a city, as well as their social networks.
Using Dublin as a testbed, the app lets users explore events and activities by time, type, distance and use local knowledge to explore the scene, grab food or a coffee or find a gym or place to get your hair cut.
It also shows the best side of a city according to how many users like a place or are attending events.
“Our consumers are LGBT travellers worldwide,” Fildes continued.
The lucrative LGBT market is estimated to be worth over $60bn in Europe alone.
“We want to tap into this market and allow the LGBT traveller to be able to explore a city as if they were a local, whether it’s grabbing something to eat, a quick coffee or socialising.
“We feel we can connect those users with businesses within those cities and provide a cost-effective self-service platform to publicise [businessses] to this huge market,” Fildes said.
The pink pound
The annual international travel spend by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender tourists was estimated to have been worth in excess of $200 billion in 2014, with European LGBT travellers spending an estimated $66bn.
After a couple of years of post-recession slow growth, LGBT tourists reported significant travel increases over the past 12 months.
Of those surveyed, 29pc of LGBT participants are frequent leisure travelers, taking five or more leisure trips per year, with 10 or more leisure hotel room nights per year.
14pc of LGBT respondents are frequent business travellers, taking five or more business trips per year.
As expected, LGBT business travellers are most likely to “hit the road” for non LGBT-related reasons, mostly for a business meeting for an employer. However, 7pc of business travellers reported attending at least one LGBT-specific conference in the past 12 months.
Over the past year, 24pc of all LGBT survey participants reported extending a business trip by at least one day for leisure purposes.
“There’s two of us in this venture so far,” Fildes explained. “Danny Lane is a web designer from Cork and I am originally from London but also moved to Dublin.
“We both have a background in web design and development and have been running a web design company called Fruit for the last 10 years.”
Before Gaybrhood.com came about, Fildes and Lane had already started an LGBT Dublin website 14 years ago called Queerid.com, which gave them a great insight into the LGBT market.
“Gaybrhood works by looking at the things our users like and the events they are attending on social media to create a fully-formed city guide.
“When our users like a restaurant, bar, etc, or join an event on their social media, this then automatically updates our own listings. We can then create a real-time overview of what is most popular in any given city at any time.
“Meanwhile, business and event profiles on the site are automatically synchronised with their social media accounts so any updates (i.e. opening times, location) filter straight through to Gaybrhood as well.
“We want to be a one-stop shop for any gay traveller exploring a new destination, wherever it is in the world. We want to be the Grindr of going out!”
Gaybrhood has done a soft launch with a responsive website in Dublin, and the team are currently tweaking the algorithm and working on the app.
“We’re really happy with the response so far. Once our app is in place it’s about expanding. We plan to launch in 10 cities in the next few months, with the aim to be in over 90 cities over the next two years.
‘We plan to launch in 10 cities in the next few months, with the aim to be in over 90 cities over the next two years’
– CHRIS FILDES, GAYBRHOOD
“From an investment point of view, we’re currently looking for angel investment to help with app development and marketing primarily.
“We were lucky enough to be in the Alpha Start-Up programme at this year’s Web Summit, which gave us a great chance to talk to possible investors, and we are currently following up a few leads.”
It’s a numbers game
Technically, creating the algorithm that pulls the information together was the hardest part, says Fildes.
“A lot of data categorisation and rationalisation is involved due to incomplete or incorrect information that many businesses put into their social media profiles. We worked on the algorithm for months before starting even looking at the front-end and we’re constantly looking at ways to improve it.
“There is still a small amount of manual checking of listings, particularly in non-English speaking countries, but this is okay as it ensures we’re keeping an eye on what information comes in.”
Build it and they will come
Fildes continued: “We’re fairly new to the start-up scene and are slowly finding our feet but have found an incredibly friendly bunch of people who are more than willing to give advice.
“There are so many great ideas out there and so many opportunities to get them off the ground with the likes of NDRC and Bank of Ireland Startups. We love what the guys at Silicon Drinkabout are doing, with their weekly pub meet-ups for start-ups, which is a great ice breaker. They’ve given us some great advice.”
‘When you have an idea that you have been working on by yourself for a while, it can be hard to “come out” to the bigger world, but you soon find out if it has legs by getting the reaction of others’
– CHRIS FILDES, GAYBRHOOD
Filde’s advice for other would-be founders is just start.
“Just go out there and build something. Don’t keep it to yourself though and try to make contacts in the start-up scene.
“When you have an idea that you have been working on by yourself for a while, it can be hard to ‘come out’ to the bigger world, but you soon find out if it has legs by getting the reaction of others,” Fildes concluded.
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