Storytrail claims it is the “world’s first platform of video city guides” – inevitably raising the eyes of many others that do it.
The company’s videos allow the user to explore cities around the world with a virtual guide.
The clips are pulled together into walking trails (or, indeed, “storytrails”) through different city neighbourhoods.
In each video, a host – the company’s co-founder and presenter – pops-up to explain curious stories behind both big attractions and hidden gems.
It has guides in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Rome so far, with Lisbon and London expected in the coming months.
Q&A with co-founder and producer Nuno Alves:
What problem does your business solve?
In the pre-visit stage the information is quite spread out across YouTube channels and other web media being difficult to preview and explore destinations.
During the visit stage, walking around with a guidebook is cumbersome and boring. Tour groups are often overcrowded and inflexible.
Hi-tech apps often offer poor-quality information automatically trawled from the Web and Wikipedia and don’t offer any differentiation, premium content or experience to entice the visitor.
Storytrail has a smart answer. Our multi-platform approach is being carefully crafted to be simple and enjoyable to use across the complete travel life cycle.
However, what makes us stand out is our focus on rich content (of which we have full ownership): videos of a real storyteller presenting curious stories about amazing places.
Names of founders, their management roles, and the number of full-time paid staff?
Jason Pascoe – founder and host
Nuno Alves – founder and producer
Production team (creative director + videographers + editors): seven people.
We have one investor: Portugal Ventures.
Our offer is free for the end user in all the platforms – removing the cost barrier to access content.
It’s going to be monetised (after building a community) through sponsored video ads.
We are going to produce tailor-made video ads for advertisers, where we tell interesting stories (our speciality!) about their product and history.
We merge those videos with our content as native ads.
Why do you think the pain point you’re solving is painful enough that customers are willing to pay for your solution?
We are building a community of “urban explorers”.
Our “paying users” are brands, which are always keen to tell stories about its product in order to get a deeper personal connection with their target.Why brands like sponsored
Why do brands like sponsored ads?
- more like content than ads
- much more engaging
- more personal and less corporate
- more effective than traditional ads
- no ad-blockers
- lots of success cases (Gimlet, BuzzFeed, New York Times, Huffington Post, etc..)
Storytrail’s idea is the next step along on the evolution of city guides.
Combining mobile guides with an actual video-based host who talks the user around a location is certainly a different take on the age-old proposition.
Focusing on sponsored or native ad-type content is also a potentially good avenue to take from a revenue perspective, not least because with a plethora of city guides already in the market there is an argument that many consumers will always simply take the free option rather than pay for a service.
Herein lies the wider problem for Storytrail (as with countless other consumer-facing brands) – getting people to use it.
With the giant online travel agencies such as Booking.com, for example, offering their own guides throughout the purchase and pre-trip cycle, Storytrail will need to think of innovative ways of getting their in front of consumers.
Word-of-mouth and PR is not going to do that, not least with its revenue model going to be dependent on a volume of users to see the native ads that brands will work with the company on.