Startup Spotlight: TripButler – Online Abroad At Local Costs
If there is one thing that’s a MUST in everyone’s life – its travel. Everyone travels. Some travel abroad. While on the move (esp on a trip to foreign land) – increasing number of traveller’s are in the need of accessing internet to do various things – check mail, browse things to do in the place they are in, check directions, post trip pictures/feedback, social network. But, roaming internet rates are insanely priced. And, the place/hotel that you are in might not even have internet facility. What will travellers do in this situation? There is a clear need for internet-on-the-go-even-if-its-on-foreign-land. This is exactly what TripButler promises to customers.
We had the opportunity to discuss with Barbara Wiesinger, Product Manager about TripButler’s journey so far. Read on to know what Barbara has to say about TripButler.
What’s “TripButler” into and what problem are you trying to solve?
TripButler provides a personal WiFi hotspot optimized especially for travelers and those who want to be online everywhere (even on your travel abroad) – all the time. “TripButler WiFi” is a tiny mobile device that allows Internet access for up to 5 devices, so you can share one device with your family and friends. The device connects to the carrier network within only a few seconds, providing internet access via the TripButler VPN infrastructure. Because of this connection, one is no longer “abroad in another country” in the internet but seemingly connected via the home country. Roaming is history!
With the iPhone and Android app – can customers make phone calls at local cost?
The TripButler App allows you to use the contact book from your own smart phone to make calls, from and to any part of the world, for only 0.19 Euro per minute.When you download the App we give our customers 5 minutes FREE to try it. Of course you need to have internet connection to use the App, so connect to TripButler WiFi and make cheap calls with the App worldwide.
How are the customers charged for the device service?
The device can be ordered online via the portal www.tripbutler.com and rented for the duration of a trip. Customers pay online with Credit Card or PayPal.
Can customers own the device?
Within the next few weeks customers will be able to purchase the device on our website.
What’s the expansion plan (in terms of geography coverage) in next 18 to 24 months?
Well, we have plans to cover the globe (minus China, North Korea and some African states) by the end of the year. I hope that answers the question.
Many leisure travelers might not carry their laptops on their holiday – any plans to roll out your service for mobile devices?
TripButler can be already used for mobile devices, all devices which are able to connect to a WiFi signal.
Did you receive any funding? or you expecting in near future?
We were offered funding but refused to take it to keep 100% control. We are open for a later growth-investment in fall.
How big is TripButler team?
In our team 2 people are working on social media marketing & distribution. The development team consists of 2 employees and the CEO Michael Hirschbrich and COO/CFO Andreas Schietz.
Did you get any setback in the initial months of operation?
No, but we grow slowly and organically. So the biggest challenge are the entry barriers into a market, where a wifi-hotspot is simply not recognized as product. The costs of educating customers are higher than expected.
Who are your competitors?
There is one competitor in the UK “Tep Wireless”, one in the Netherlands “Droam” and abroadband.com for example.
What’s your USP?
We work based on our own device-software (firmware) with just one button-click. Thats super convenient and the data is transferred in a secure VPN environment. Furthermore our service is very reliable in all serving countries, so the user feedback is whithout exeggeration excellent.
Do you have a target customer base number or “number of devices booked” goal for this year?
Yes, but we dont communicate these numbers. We seek to break even by fall.
How are customers reacting towards TripButler so far?
The feedback we get is very positive, people love the possibilty to be online without paying absurdly high roaming costs while traveling. And they are happy with the easy handling of the device.
Author: Karthick Prabu