Triptease: Charlie Osmond

A dislike of 'ugly, text-heavy' travel sites inspired Osmond to create a site for photographic, beautiful travel reviews

Name: Charlie Osmond
Age: 36
Company: Triptease
Staff numbers: 6
Location: London
Date launched: 05/03/2013
Website: www.triptease.com

Tell us what your business does:

We help people create beautiful and shareable travel reviews.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I felt a consumer pain that existing travel reviews sites were ugly, text-heavy and often anonymous. I couldn’t work out if reviewers were people to be trusted or if they travelled in a similar way to me. I had experienced, first hand, the joy of booking a holiday drain away as I checked review sites for the hotels I had booked and found numerous poorly written and bad looking reviews that made even great hotels look awful. I also felt like the travel industry should be a major beneficiary of social media and yet could see they were still failing to get a good return on investment in this area. This played on my mind for a while so when I had an idea of how to fix it through a site for travel reviews designed for social sharing, I was eager to build the product and get it out there.

How did you know there was a market for it?

I talked to a lot of people who felt the same way. Both consumers and the industry felt a similar pain to me and I knew that I could fix the problem with the Triptease offering.

What were you doing before starting up?

I was running the social media agency I co-founded, Fresh Networks.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes. I started my first business, FreshMinds, soon after graduating.

How did you raise the money?

Triptease has been privately funded thus far with some angel investment.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

There are constant challenges in running your own business. To turn a start-up into a brilliant, successful business you have to be prepared to constantly change and adapt. So many people have an opinion on our business and we really want to hear what people have to say yet there can sometimes be a danger in trying to act on too many different ideas and suggestions.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

The revenue model is well proven. We are paid an affiliate fee based on click-through to bookings. There are a number of additional services and revenue streams, but they are likely to be secondary. An important aspect of our revenue model is designed to rebalance the misalignment of power in the industry. We want a fairer deal for hotels. At present the industry encourages guests to post ratings to third-party review sites. Every review posted drives bookings via OTAs who take a cut from the hotel. Hotels are deeply frustrated by this yet trapped in the cycle so we want to offer an alternative.

What was your first big breakthrough?

I suppose it was really figuring out what the model was that would fix the issues that both consumers and the industry were facing. Once I had that figured out, we were able to grow the Triptease offering quite quickly.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Just go for it. If you have an idea, especially for an online business, there is even less reason now not to give it a go. You can simply create the simplest possible version of your product, test it and get feedback and then decide if you want to invest more time and money.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

Running the best travel review site in the world.

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