Our next #FounderSecrets founder is Pavel Choudhury from Tourtuss. His app idea was born out of a horrible tour experience Pav had in India and resulted in his vision to put an end to rip off tours and tour guides. The app is aimed at young travellers who are looking to get the most out of their money and time, and meet new people abroad.
Local guides, teachers and other experts can offer their tours and services and will be rated based on their customers’ feedback. The Tourtuss goal is to ensure quality of service, a slick experience, and an all around great time for everyone involved!
Currently, Pav and his co-founder are still working full-time in nine to five jobs, which is definitely a challenge when running a start-up on the side! finding reliable developers also turned out to be much more difficult than anyone expected.
Talking to others about his idea was Pav’s biggest fear at the beginning of his journey. He was worried someone with time and money would steal the idea and build it the next day, or worse - people would tell him it wasn’t worth working on! However,sharing his vision has actually helped him receive invaluable advice, guidance and input that he wouldn’t have otherwise received, and some of that advice has forced him to look at the project from a different angle. If he could speak to his former self, he’d tell himself to shake off those doubts immediately, and, he would advise anyone with a start-up idea to share it openly, get feedback and build connections!
The most memorable moment so far for Pav was to see his notes turn into something real and become a UX demo. The next step will be to take this demo to a developer and see the prototype come alive...
For this weeks #FounderSecrets we interviewed Founder of Tourtuss, Pavel Choudhury. The Tourtuss app is designed to make it easy for young people to get the most out of their time and money while travelling the world. It functions two ways - as a sales platform it helps travellers to discover and book interesting tours and activities, and it allows local guides, teachers and other experts to access the tourism sector to offer their services.
Tourtuss provides customers with the option to book experiences and activities within minutes, as quickly as booking an Uber. All tours are categorised with icons similar to Snapchat and Instagram, and are rated based on real-time user feedback. With their application, the team wants to put an end to rip off tours!
The app idea came through Pavel’s own experience while travelling through India and Asia in 2015. During his holiday he booked two tours with two contrary experiences – one absolutely awesome, the other one a complete disaster!
The guide showing the group around Delhi was not only someone other than Pav expected, but spoke little English and repeated the same facts over and over again, He then had the cheek of asking for a tip at the end!
All of this ruined Pav’s experience for the day and he wondered how many people find themselves in the exact same situation.
As soon as he returned, he started researching companies that offer reliable experiences and discovered that there was not one catering for young people specifically. After a research period of about 18 months, Tourtuss was founded to help people to meet others, have a good time and create authentic experiences.
Difficulties and challenges
The main difficulty for Pavel and his tech co-founder is time itself. They both have full-time 9 to 5 jobs and currently, the two founders work on Tourtuss in the evenings, meet on weekends and chat through Skype.
Another challenge that lots of app start-ups face is finding a reliable developer that doesn’t have vested interests. It was through word of mouth that Pavel was able to connect with a freelancer who would like to work on the beta of their project, and they felt is trustworthy.
One of the things Pave wishes he had known about before starting his business is the vast pool of opportunities there is for start-ups. There are numerous advertisements on the tube regarding crowdfunding but while designing the idea for Tourtuss, they learned about all the different start-up funds and accelerators, as well as competitions globally and locally. An invaluable asset to the Tourtuss team has been Google campus, where like-minded people come together to work in a shared space, and discuss and solve problems together.
Learning, successes and favourite moments
The most important lesson Pav has learned is a more personal lesson than a business one - and it is to not be afraid to talk about the idea! Pavel was really fearful at first about sharing his idea and very conscious that someone with the time, money and resources would just take the idea and build it themselves. However, he soon found out that talking to people helped him to refine the product further, improve the idea,see potential flaws he’d missed, and look at the project from a huge number of different angles. Now he’s had a complete change of heart, and would encourage every founder to talk to anyone they can about their idea -, talking to people can opens doors and can lead to incredibly helpful insight, and connections.
Personally, Pavel’s favourite moment was the built of an actual UX demo. The ideas that were originally typed on his phone seem more real now! Building this momentum and seeing that it’s going somewhere, rather than just talking about it in the pub, is a great feeling!
Next steps and future plans
Pavel’s idea is to take the UX wireframe sketches to a developer, who can help build the prototype. The initial plan was to launch the product somewhere local like Cambridge, however, Pav has now decided to enter a start-up competition run by UNWTO, which is the World Tourism Organisation. For the launch of their very first start-up competition, UNWTO offers to pilot a start-up’s project idea which tackles the problems of future travelling. As Tourtuss ticks a lot of the requirement boxes, Pavel is sure that it would be absolutely worthwhile for them to enter. Currently, they are in full swing, preparing for the deadline in September.
In the future, Pavel dreams of building an ambitious team that is not afraid to push any boundaries. He has always been a firm believer in people not working with him, rather than for him. Someone with like-minded ideas, a passion for travel and a passion shaking up the status quo would be the perfect fit.
The ideal future in Pavel’s eyes, would be a close-knit team that wants to do all of it with him!
A piece of advice
He’s said it once, and he’ll say it again - If you have an idea, don’t be afraid to talk about it!
Don’t keep it to yourself because - if you snooze you lose. Pavel advices everyone to talk about their idea as he is doing today, in order to grow a team and grow confidence. It helps to build momentum and pushes you to achieve more. He found that there are a lot of other people with similar problems and nearly everyone wants to help out!