Welcome to the thirty-fourth edition of “Startup of the Week” which features many great startups and interviews with successful business heads. This week, I interviewed Andrew Mason, entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Detour, audio walking tours through cities.
I’ve asked Andrew a series of questions about Detour and tips for budding entrepreneurs. Have a read at what he had to say.
How did the idea of Detour come about?
As of today, we have 10 walks in San Francisco with tours in LA, New York City and Chicago forthcoming this year. Since our launch, Detour has been about discovering a cities history, culture, social issues, urban development, art, architecture, current events and food.
We have Detours narrated by journalists, activist heroes, and one by a local fisherman. We have Detours located in the middle of the city, and Detours in aggressively inconvenient locations, like Albany Bulb and a superfund site in The Bayview. Knowing the eclectic options a user has with Detour, you might be asking yourself, “who is Detour making these for, exactly?”. So far, the answer has been, “ourselves”.
It’s hard to make great Detours. So by making a lot of them, and a variety of them, and doing it in our backyard, we’ve been able to learn quickly and experiment wildly, all while making some wonderful-for-their-financial-untenability experiences along the way. But as much fun as it is to make Detours at home, we know that are real customers are travelers.
My wife and I recently visited St. Petersburg for the first time, and despite our best effort to employ the coolest guidebooks, apps, and even guided tours, we never really felt like we got below the surface. We had no trouble finding cool restaurants, shops, and sights, but I never really felt connected – like I understood what it was like to live there. The kind of thing that Detour does magnificently. I really missed having it.
The newly relaunched Detour represents the end of our first chapter, which was focused on learning the medium, and the beginning of our next chapter, which is focused on making Detour the ultimate experiential travel companion.
Simply, what does your business do?
We make audio walking tours through cities.
What were the challenges you faced when creating Detour?
The technology is hard, but great technology is just table stakes in this business – the real challenge is consistently making great content.
What is the difference between you and your competitors?
I don’t think we’re being arrogant by saying that Detour doesn’t really compare to other audio tour apps. In theory we compete with taking a live walking tour. The benefits of Detour is you get to take it with whoever you want, whenever you want, and because it’s just you we can take you to hidden places that would be hard to go with a group of tourists. Also the narrators aren’t typical tour guides – they’re people that you wouldn’t normally get to walk around with, people who are somehow tied to the history of the place.
What were you doing before Detour?
I founded Groupon and ran it for four years.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
I don’t have any advice.
In one word, describe your job?
Headquarters: San Francisco, CA, USA
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