There’s probably not too many Finns who’ve seen the world as much as CreateTrips founder Juha-Petteri Kukkonen has. He began his travels at a very young age, accompanying his father in his business trips ever since he was child. As he grew older, travelling became a lifestyle of his, and he found himself travelling first with friends, then with a girlfriend who soon turned into a wife and son. The nature of his travelling also changed from a hobby into a business that provided food to the table, similarly to his father all those years ago.
Today, his company CreateTrips announced that it has closed a $600,000 seed round led by Butterfly Ventures, Frontier and Rkapital. In addition to the capital cash, the company announced the official global launch of their app, which will include a few new features that they say will fundamentally increase the app’s attractiveness to travellers.
As for Kukkonen, the round means he’s up for a whole lot more of travelling.
Finnish start up CreateTrips is what you’d call a social trip planner. In order to better understand under what circumstances you’d end up using an app like theirs, we need to go through a few of the procedures and challenges a big portion of departing travellers are faced with before and during their journeys.
First of all, just like a rockstar needs a crowd, a true traveller will need a map: without one they are incomplete. Paper maps used to be the real deal, but nowadays, thanks to GPS, mobile devices are climbing to become the main providers of map services. CreateTrips is no different is this sense, which is why a user will find access to maps and location detection through the app.
Another thing to consider is that a good deal of travellers plan their trips beforehand. There’s different ways to do that, none of which are necessarily bad. However, CreateTrips has an inbuilt feature that let’s you plan your travel by setting destinations, times of stay and so forth. This offers a traveller a quick way to keep track of the progress of their journey.
So basically the app allows travellers to build travel plans, see their location and access a different set of maps. These features in mind, CreateTrips is sort of the Swiss knife for backpackers.
In addition to practical features, the app has strong emphasis on social aspects of travelling, allowing users to post journey plans on their social media and invite friends to join and plan the journey together.
Furthermore, CreateTrips is a strong combiner of blogging and travelling. What this means is that CreateTrips seeks deals with an army of bloggers who then furiously type travelling guides and blog posts about their own travels. These guides are what CreateTrips calls mobile travel guides, or in other words, ready to go trip plans for their app users made by experienced travellers. The idea is that if you like someone's blogs, and you think his/her trip to a certain location you’re heading to was done in an especially cool way, you can buy his/her travel guide for a starting price of 3.59 euros, though in the end, the blogger can decide the eventual selling price. Half of that payment goes to CreateTrips while the other half goes to the blogger, and in return you receive the guide to your app, through which you can open the guide whenever you want.
Though CreateTrips founder Juha-Petteri Kukkonen told us that the blogs are showing sings of becoming a very promising source of income, the main revenue mine so far has been purchasing the apps offline usage.
You see, online connections aren't exactly a guaranteed commodity when voyaging through the various lands of planet earth. Knowing this more than well, online use of CreateTrips has been freemium, while offline access to the app needs to be purchased for every trip they wish to use it for. Doing this will allow the user to store and access their plans, location on the map and any purchased travel plans offline, thus avoiding any data roaming fees. As for the maps, the app has three available map packages, each larger than the previous one, both in size and price tag.
Users haven’t been scared off by prices though, quite on the contrary. Kukkonen, who cannot hide his excitement when talking about the apps qualitative success, tells us that the apps retention rates have been, as he puts it, amazing.
“Our average user has 5 sessions in a day, we've seen a steady growth of 1,000 users on a daily basis and our drop off rates are near to zero. Now that we've launched globally, the existing user base will only keep on increasing”, he commented.
Kukkonen says the seed cash will take CreateTrips to further travels, this time hunting for bloggers to join their repertoire, which Kukkonen says is harder than it sounds like.
“Travelling bloggers are generally quite sceptical of emerging innovations in the travelling industry. In order to convince them you really need to meet them face to face. Luckily in our case this has been very successful, as not a single blogger we've met so far has turned us down”, he says and continues, “Although I need to mention that our own blog expert Veera Papinoja, who writes blogs for Finnair, has been an irreplaceable help in this matter”
The seed-fund, which the 4-headed team behind CreateTrips achieved by making investor contacts in various start up events, will also be used for marketing and sales purposes. Kukkonen also says an Android version of the app is on its way as well as new languages (currently the app is only available in English), but wouldn't specify any dates.
Since their establishment around a year ago, CreateTrips has been launched in 18 countries worldwide, ranging from Philippines to Saudi Arabia. According to CreateTrips, the apps reception has generally been very good and the app is leading top 10 travel app charts in several of their target countries’ app stores.
One last interesting fact: Kukkonen’s three year old son has already travelled more than 150,000 miles by plane. This came to light when a flight attendant looked at the boy’s flight logs before boarding the plane and said he had more flight miles behind him than the flights captain.