Development Director at Izi.travel about where the company spent 20 million euros. Director of development services city audio guides and audio tours Izi.travel Yegor Yakovlev in response to analytical analyses from market experts told about the features of the development platform and what prospects it opens for the media industry as a whole.
Publication on vc.ru about the history of bankruptcy of Izi.travel “Our main mistake is the reliance on a single private investor” has created a powerful wave of comments and discussions in fact vc.ru and many professional venues. Im glad the theme of Izi.travel and a €20 million investment has caused so much attention and discussion. I am very grateful for the opportunity to answer them and give clarification. I apologize in advance that the text will be long, but it explains why for so long, so expensive and why its only the beginning.
Actually, not only audio. And this is basically what leads people astray when they evaluate and compare how effectively the money was spent investor and why there is still no monetization. Lets start with a simple statement.
We believe that the demand for audiostory about the world is and will continue to grow. The most obvious solution. Lets make great content and distribute it via a cool mobile app. But, as I said in the article vc.ru at the stage of developing the idea we researched dozens of companies on the market and realized that this approach (and it is chosen by the vast majority of such projects) is not working. Most die, some survive, but you certainly cant call these businesses successful.
They can be scaled up to the billions, and it is our ambition. So, we need something completely different. What?. If you break the chain, as specific audio reaches the listener, then there will be a few basic elements.
Each stage – additional costs. So, we need to cut them.
So we came to the idea of creating a platform that separates the supply chain into individual components. On the one hand, anyone who wants to share their story (whether it be a large national Museum or a normal person) can easily do through a simple web interface and not think about how the story will reach the ears of the listener. On the other hand, the makers of numerous sites of tourist services, mobile applications, audio guides which will complement their services can come and take the content from one place and not to think about how to create it. For example, Airbnb recently integrated audio walks in your application and booking.com for each booking offers a guide (not audio) in the city.
Its like YouTube for video, only for geo-referenced audiostory. It is very similar. That is the platform we did. A web content management system (CMS) for the authors and a server for storage and distribution of content + API for third-party applications and services.
In the beginning, until the system little content, would hardly have been willing to invest in creating applications based on our API, so we created our own mobile application. Even called it at first, not as a platform – OPAS, to emphasize that such applications can be a lot.
Key decision. We make a platform and do not create the content yourself. To create and maintain their own content on the whole world, and even in different languages, for different target groups and others – is impossible. The only way to motivate thousands of authors around the world to create and share their stories. How?.
Every platform has a problem starting. Nobody will bring the content yet users, but you cant have users until you have enough content. We found the solution in the museums where the audio guide know about for 60 years.
Traditional solutions rental of audio guides are compensated only when a large attendance and is not available to small museums. To them we made a proposal to take advantage of our free decision. All that was required of them to read already existing texts, upload them to the CMS and instructing the poster at the entrance. “Dear visitor, we have in the Museum has a free audio guide to use – install the app on your smartphone”.
So we are simultaneously received first content and the first user. With each new published tour increased the credibility of a platform for small museums followed by medium, then large. In addition to the museums, your guides have to spread libraries, theaters, publishers, historians, bloggers, private sponsors, and many others.
Now, on paper, it sounds pretty simple, but in fact this process was very difficult, very long and, as a consequence, very expensive. Museums are conservative and careful structure. In addition, the staff is really overwhelmed inside job and they have no time to create the guides.
And if small museums were more or less just to earn the trust of a medium or large Museum, it is very difficult. There are reasons. Companies like ours come to him for a few pieces a week. Nicely saying all, but most pacifiers.
A large Museum may not risk their reputation and go with an untested solution. So have hundreds of other examples to prove that you are indeed a worthy and high-quality partner. Visit dozens of exhibitions, held a lot of speeches to enlist the support of dozens of partners.
At the launch of the first project of the Tretyakov gallery took about two years, and the Pushkin Museum. Pushkin hooked up just last year. But now that the most active users of the platform.
Why all this. After all, it was cheaper to create this content on their own. Yes, it is cheaper. But only for a short period of time.
As a platform we went the other way – we have personally trained hundreds of museums around the world, conducted dozens of workshops at major Museum conferences where she worked with thousands of people. For each Museum, we secured a personal account Manager, who answered all the questions, helped in the work on audio guides, came in person and taught employees how to inform about the availability of guides and how to analyze statistics on their usage. And all this in order to in some time machine to create a new audio guides began to work itself.
And she began. This is the answer to a very private question. How to contain the content of the museums to date. Very simple.
They do it because they need it. The main result. Today in the world tens of thousands of museums know about Izi.travel, 1400 of them have already published their guides, a few thousand have registered and are working.
Now the museums themselves tell each other about our platform, share their experiences at conferences, teach each other. Heres a story about one of the projects with the Tretyakov gallery, illuminated at several international exhibitions. Like all great.
Museums not only create content, but also attract to the platform users. However, almost immediately we are faced with the fact that very few of the lecturers told stories so that they are interesting to listen to. Traditional Museum tours often drive in a dream. Little to teach people the technique of creation of the audio guide, you need to teach them to write and tell stories interesting and exciting.
Then we began to collect the world best examples to circulate to the authors of the guidelines and techniques of how to adapt texts for listening. Their master classes, we were taught not only the platform, but the techniques of storytelling. We even opened a special section of the website – the Academy, which has published various tutorials and courses about how to tell stories. This section we have yet to expand.
Realizing the lack of qualified personnel and the importance of education, we began to work with the universities telling the students to the specialized areas about the ideology of open platforms, modern technologies to teach storytelling. In some universities the study of our platform included in the curriculum and students write the guides as a result of his research work.
If to speak about Russia, then each semester we have published dozens of audio guides from the students of RSUH, RGUTiS, St. Petersburg state University and other. Dozens of universities use Izi.travel in educational practice in Europe and America. Almost simultaneously with the universities, for the educational process began to use Izi.travel and a huge number of schools, colleges, lyceums.
Here, only one of hundreds of examples. The main result. We are aware of the lack of good storytelling skills among our authors and try to help them and to teach.
In addition to the current authors, we teach and future. To date, thousands of students around the world use Izi.travel in the educational process. Today our platform to train those who tomorrow will begin his professional career.
To work with content providers individually effective, but long. We began to look for more widespread approaches. So noticed that in places with a high concentration of content began to change the behavior of travelers.
Installing the application within the Museum, the people saw in him other and began to go there. According to local partners, the people began to walk and go there, where before usually did not come. And if so, what benefit from this gets the city and local businesses. Hotels, restaurants, shops, public transport. People walk more, walk longer, go to more cafes, we stop for another night in a hotel, come back in a year and recommend to friends.
The first such case was in Geneva. Then we turned to the city authorities and local tourist offices with the idea. If your city is a lot of content in different languages for children and adults, local and foreigners, then your city will become more attractive to tourists. But this requires that someone created a lot of content (museums, libraries, tourism authorities and other), someone told visitors to the city (hotels, restaurants, transportation), and someone gave the money for it (sponsors.
Banks, GSM operators etc.). We trained the cities and entire regions to the launch of such projects. More details can be found on this recording presentations for hoteliers and restaurateurs of Tver.
With this approach, we received not one or two museums, and a city filled with stories. While most of the work with content providers, did not we, and the local tourist offices.
The largest such project is the region of Sicily, where it has been extended to dozens of organizations and has published about 100 autohide. The main result. Were always looking for ways to scale its efforts and accelerate the market development of storytelling.
From individual content providers, we turn to whole cities and regions. Even more interesting is that in the scheme there are sponsors and projects are beginning to be established not only on the enthusiasm of the sponsors, but sponsorship money, which greatly speeds up the process. We develop sustainable ecosystem. A powerful tool in the development of any market, including the market of storytelling, is money.
In Europe, spent tens of billions of euros to support cultural heritage. And we decided that it would be a reasonable part of this money to send to the story of this legacy. In 2015, we won the first evrogrant €1 million for this purpose. Only a small part of the money was earmarked directly for the development of the platform, the greater were the project partners on the creation of content and the methodology of its creation.
The trouble eurogrant that the approaches to their distribution outdated. A large amount of money is still spent on the creation of mobile apps for individual cities, museums, parks, although there are already many open and free alternatives. But worse than that, spending money on apps, they do not spend money for content.
Therefore, we initiated a program of raising $250 million for content creation for cities, roads and museums of Europe, which he called eurostory.org. To implement this idea, we have collected and continue to collect initiative group of representatives of large museums and cultural organizations, which prepares the request to allocate the appropriate amount. More details can be found on the project website.
A similar path we have chosen in America. On the basis of the largest Museum conference Museums&the Web was created a non-profit organization MuseWeb Foundation, which aims to attract money from public and private funds and direct them to create stories. One of the first projects to – BeHere in Baltimore, you can learn more here.
The main result. Based on our experience we have learned to attract grant money for the creation of content and has launched several initiatives aimed to attract a large number of grant money for development of the market of storytelling. Lets see. The platform is free to content creators, and users.
Even if you do all the tours are paid, what was said in the beginning, dozens of examples prove that it is not working. Where is the money. The answer is very simple.
Where in any other free platform – advertising. And not just in advertising, and locally geo-linked audio. With our app people walk the streets with headphones.
We know a lot about these people from their profile, we know how long they go and how many more to go, what they listen to and what they are interested in. Example. Imagine that a person goes through Paris and listening to the tour about Louis XIV.
After about 40 minutes after the start, when we understand that man is a little tired, at the very moment when he walks past a bakery and smell fresh bread, we tell him that here the court was buying bread for the Imperial court and the founder of the bakerys great-great-great-grandfather of the current owner, was honored to be personally presented to Louis. Well how here not to go.
The local advertising market is huge. According to conservative estimates, it amounts to €50 billion a year. And we believe that a local audio is a significant part. This is our initial goal, around it, and built the whole development strategy, it is also calculated in the business plan. As you can see, we have a clear strategy and business vision, but they are much more global and ambitious than it seems at first glance.
However, the market beyond the local structures do not yet exist and that it formed need a huge amount of content (that was what “dissolve” is) and the same huge number of users. Now it becomes clear why all previous years and the millions of euros we spent not so much on themselves as on the formation of the ecosystem of market storytelling, promotion of the flywheel, when thousands of businesses and tens of thousands of professionals start to work on the creation and distribution of audio guides.
The most important thing about the business model and strategy. We will return the investment through local advertisements. But to make this possible, you first need a huge amount of content and huge number of users. How do we solve the first problem described in all sections above. As the second – below.
Really, why. After all, this is a bold assumption based our entire business. Lets look at some strong trends in recent years: Travelers around the world are increasingly looking for the opportunity to visit all famous sights and discover the unknown, “local” places.
In particular, it strongly promotes the concept of Airbnb travel “like a local”. Made by local professional and Amateur guides here you will find a large demand. By the way, a reason for the fall of 2016 Airbnb included in the Appendix section of Audio Walks. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and other social platforms have shaped people have a need for self-expression and recognition. People make videos, write posts, take photos, collect more likes to become famous, to impress others.
But because storytelling is inherent nature and the most natural way of expression. And the ability to share stories you will find the demand of people around the world and start a wave of crowdsourcing. By the way, that Facebook is already working on the streaming audio. All the major car manufacturers start producing machines with the autopilot, which frees up the attention of the driver. Cars are huge gadgets are also fighting for user attention.
And in the car it will be audio, not video, because most people get motion sickness while reading and watching videos in the car. You say radio. To this I will answer below. Games like Ingress and PockemonGo clearly proved the importance and relevance of the interaction of virtual content with the real world. Our children are once again fun to play on the street, even in other games.
Now another very important observation. Our daily lives can be roughly divided into two phases: Phase, when we are in motion. Walking, driving, going by bike, running and so on.
At this time, our eyes are busy and cant watch the screen. And if the static phase is now addressed in all possible ways the modern efficient and targeted advertising (Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram and others) and there is a war of services and applications for the users attention, in the active phase of our life Bal still rules the radio and music. And no special struggle there.
While traditional radio does not know how to target ads, it does not have a coordinate binding, it knows nothing about the listener. Do you think advertising monsters like Google and Facebook will leave it a couple of hours a day without his attention. Of course not. Just until now they were locked in a struggle for a more fatty piece of cake – a longer part of human life, when we “stick” in the screen. But they are already deployed in the direction over audio and local advertising.
Finally, we come to the true idea of Izi.travel is not included and not even just a platform for geo-linked audio. Izi.travel – new media. Same as TV, Newspapers or the Internet. At first glance this video looks like a radio, but there are a few key features:
The main focus – audio. That is, the new media is best suited for the active phase of human life, when his eyes are busy with something else. High artegiovane. We know the profile of the person, the context of what he listens to, his interests, where and may where hes going and more. All this allows him to play only the relevant content, appropriate language, interests, place, and time.
The main result. Five years ago, we predicted the trend of growing interest in audio and local advertising and made a bet on it. And all these years we, in fact, was prepared by the authors for the new media. Authors who initially create your content in accordance with the foregoing features of this media.
What local advertisements, we have decided Facebook, Google, Apple and others. But advertising cant exist in a vacuum, it must be dissolved in an interesting and, same, audio, and locally linked content. And during this time we have created the largest and most rapidly growing platform for such content in the world.
How we deal with the question of the growth of the content database, described in detail above. But to run any promotional models need a large number of users. And its not those three million installations of the app Izi.travel. Need the numbers hundreds of times more.
How?. Here we are back to the original model of separation of the supply chain in the market of storytelling and the idea that the content should be played not only in the application Izi.travel, but also in hundreds of others through a software API. What services are interested in this.
We have identified 30 types of partners who might be interested. I will not stop at all, I understand only a few of the most obvious examples. There are plenty of booking services for tours, hotels, tickets, cars and other things.
Times a lot of them, between them there is a huge competition. Must be something that distinguishes you from a competitor. And the guides here are great. Agree that easier and more enjoyable to buy a tour to Paris and 20 free audioregular the city than just a tour in Paris for the same money. Moreover, in deciding the journey, the man is emotionally easier for him to decide when he can see, read, hear, there will be interesting.
How much can raise customer loyalty letter. “Dear user. Thank you for choosing our service.
Make Your trip to London was even more exciting, we have prepared for you 15 free audio guides. One of them starts right near Your hotel. Can pre-download them in order to save on roaming charges.”. Development booking.com Airbnb and confirm that it works first offers after booking download offline guide for the city, and the second already offers audio guides and experience.
As stated in the previous article on vc.ru originally the idea of Izi.trave was born during a car journey. There are a huge number of map apps and navigation devices. But why when I go on the highway or stuck in traffic in the city, my GPS 95% of the time is silent. He could tell me so many interesting things about the objects around.
Here you can see an example of how it works now. And its not a specially created road trip (which also is), but a set of stories for Hiking. There are hundreds of apps with audio guides.
As a local small, like a Mob.travel and relatively large and global, such as PocketGuide and Tourpal. Each has its own monetization model, their approaches and views on the development. But in any case, 5.5 thousand additional audio guides (as no one) can help any business model. For example, Tourpal have already integrated our API and will soon begin to show the guides Izi.travel. With PocketGuide active negotiations.
And if Izi.travel a total of three million installations, for example, Yandex.Navigator – tens of millions, Google Maps, booking.com Airbnb – hundreds of millions each. And it is through these partnerships we intend to increase the number of users at times, and by orders of magnitude. Why do we need partners.
Besides the fact that it improves their own service, of course, we will share part of the revenue from future advertising apps through which advertising played. And content authors to motivate them to create more and better content. Again, the analogy with YouTube. The main result.
The development of partnerships that will allow us to reach audiences in the hundreds of millions of users and revenueshare model of advertising revenue will make such cooperation more sustainable. If you have not mastered the previous text, here will be briefly described what took 20 million investment, a lot or a little, what strategy and business model. So.
Izi.travel – not just an app-an audio guide. This is a free and open platform for creating audioguides. With Izi.travel anyone, whether a major Museum, or just passionate people can create their own audio guides as on city streets, and Museum displays. And the tours are available to travelers via the free mobile app for iOS, Android, WindowsPhone, and third-party services through APIs and widgets.
In fact, izi.TRAVEL – its like YouTube for videos or Instagram for photos, only for geo-referenced audiostory. And also as these services, monetization model Izi.travel based on advertising. And not on visual ads, and super-local advertisements when a story about a coffee shop or convenience store playing people exactly in the moment when he passes and can go inside.
The functioning of these advertising models is only possible with a huge amount of content and huge number of users. Also, by the way, the YouTube monetization model is justified only if hundreds of millions of users and videos. To create and maintain as much content for your money – unprincipled and will never pay off. So, we need to involve in the content creation of others.
A huge amount of effort, time and money was spent not on software and not on content, as many think, but on the development ecosystem – the flywheel for independent content creation museums and libraries, tourism offices and archaeological excavations, the ministries of culture, universities, parks, bloggers, all kinds of local and global businesses and, in the end, ordinary people. We had to train thousands of people, not only our platform and how to use it to their advantage, but to the storytelling to improve content quality.
We have conducted hundreds of workshops, attended hundreds of exhibitions, in the individual mode has helped thousands of content providers to bring their content to the publication stage. We taught content authors to announce and promote it among their users, we helped to create a dozen independent third-party businesses who make professional services content creation. We have launched mechanisms for the receipt of grant money from public and private funds to create interesting stories about the objects of cultural heritage.
We have brought together multiple stakeholders of tourism in the framework of entire cities and even regions on the basis of our platform, showing them the synergy of cooperation to achieve one goal – to satisfy the information hunger of a traveler. We did this for one purpose – the development of market infrastructure of storytelling (because we need a lot of content), and its always long and expensive.
But the downside of this approach is calculated in the business plan the profit is not in the tens or hundreds of thousands, and hundreds of millions of euros per year. How was spent the money. Many people mistakenly conclude: 20 million spent, there is no profit, so the money just went into the pipe. But the return on investment is not always expressed in money.
Well, you have decided to build an office building. It is long and expensive. For a couple of years, you invest money and dont get any profit at all. Does this mean that the attachment ineffective. Of course not, because every time your unfinished building is worth more than you put into it.
And further, the greater the difference. Its the same with our project. The result of these investments.
Our system lives and develops itself. We already have over 11 thousand authors. Every month, even during bankruptcy, we got 500 new authors and 200 new audio guides in a month. How much would we have paid money for the creation of these 200 audio guides on their own.
And the next 20 thousand. With us working in partnership 1400 museums in the world. In the five years we have partnered with a large number of museums than monsters like Antenna International, providing the museums with audio guides rental service for 30-50 years.
And, unlike her, content for the audio guide did not we, and museums. They update it and add new exhibitions and street walks. Museums also help to bring on Board new museums, because they understand why they need it. On our platform you run interesting projects, again, not by us but by the users of our platform.
For example, a project with the suburban trains, where passengers are invited to listen to the excursions during the trip made by Central suburban passenger company. The project itself, and its active promotion in trains made by and at the money CFPP. They does not promote our app, and the concept that the train is not only an intermediate point between work and home, but also a great way for neighbors travel. I note that the writing of guides and their voice CFPP attracted the best travel journalists in the country, including editors and journalists from National Georgaphic Traveller or Aeroflot. You can see it here.
Our entire platform is filled by such impressive projects, because people love to make them for their own purposes and in the interests of their business. Just last week the Ministry of sustainable development Montenegro presented their project on our platform at ITB Berlin. And while I was writing this material, it was a few letters from the regional Ministry of culture of Sicily on the publication of the next series of guides. And such events around the world occur every day.
Without our direct involvement, simply due to the fact that we created the ecosystem has trained thousands of people and partners, has developed a sustainable development model for different types of companies using our platform. Universities and schools in Russia, Europe and America use our platform in the educational process. Not only to study materials, how to create a new. Because they like the open platform, because the young writers can get live feedback from real listeners, because its much more interesting to create something and make it available to the world, than to write a paper and to remove the teacher Desk.
And these partners dont work for us, they work for themselves and for themselves. But thanks to them we appear every day thousands of new users, and every seven minutes – a new story.
Want a few examples of the services that were (and some still is) absolutely unprofitable, following the same strategy of conquering the market. The company that received all this time millions of skeptical review. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, WhatsApp.. And you know at least one of these platforms, which would cost less than a billion?. Our ambitions these are.
We want to be (and we are) platform No. 1 in the world of storytelling. Because platforms in the world No. 2 receives almost nothing. Whats next. And then we begin to actively involve new partners, but not on the creation and use of content.
Thousands of services and mobile applications around the world can get free access to the entire database content via APIs and use them to improve and expand their services. For those who find it difficult to use the API, there are widgets for the web site. We deal with mapping and navigation applications, services booking hotels and tickets, tourist portals and websites in order to provide the authors with the widest possible dissemination of their content.
The audience, in turn, motivates authors to create more and more quality content. When we connect local advertisements (pilot projects we are already), we are going to share revenue with content creators and partners, losing his. Again, as in YouTube.
It is this feedback that allows the author of quality content to earn on it, will save the platform from the enormous amount of garbage. View on YouTube. Popular bloggers and channels already shoot video of a quality that will be envied by other TV stations.
Further, at some point, our audiostory will be played in Yandex.Navigator and Google Maps will appear in the Airbnb app and booking.com will begin to recommend to download them after booking the hotel. Why?. Because it will allow them to monetize the time when the person is in motion (walking around the city, traveling by car or bike, sports and other things) through local advertisements. And this is necessary to “dissolve” in quality audio. As the largest and most rapidly growing base of such content in the world – Izi.travel.
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