After Speek, Waliszewski Launches New Travel App TripScout

August 11, 2015

12:30 pm

Earlier this month we spoke with then Speek COO Konrad Waliszewski about their acquisition, rocky year, and what would become of their service. During our chat, Waliszewski let us in on his next project, an app called TripScout that provides self-guided city tours from the top local guides.

Today, TripScout has officially launched out of beta and is now available in the iTunes store, and the first two featured cities are Washington, DC and Philadelphia.

“Using the TripScout app reduces your stress when planning for a trip,” said Waliszewski. “You no longer have to read through thousands of internet results or read through your expensive and bulky guidebook to figure out what to do. All you need is your iPhone.”

To find out how Waliszewski’s new venture will differ from the competition, I did what all reporters would: shared some travel stories over a few pints.

Before we get into the meat of it, knowing a bit more about Konrad’s background is important and provides some insight into why he is building a new travel focused app. He is a well respected globe trotting traveler, and has traveled to 60 countries already. Eventually he plans to visit each country on earth, with about 10-20 off his list each year while working remotely. With this, he also documents his journey on his blog, the World Venture Project, which has around 30,000 followers and has been featured in quite a few publications. This guy has tried more types of food, experienced hundreds of different cultures first hand, and been on countless trips around the world, giving him direct insight into how challenging or easy planning trips can be.

He also has that typical photo with a tiger you frequently see on Tinder, but sorry folks, this guy is married.

Beer with the TripScout Founder

I approach 51st State in DC’s Foggy Bottom area, running a bit behind schedule, and among the first observations Konrad shares with me was on the choice in dive bars. As a globe trotter, Konrad has had pints in a variety of different establishments, and part of his new travel app is to open outsiders to what locals love. So of course picking 51st State made sense as it’s definitely a bar for the locals. Frankly I only picked it because of their 50 cent taco night, but they stopped doing that anyways (they were terrible, you’re not missing out on anything).

While chatting, Konrad told me about his routine for planning a new trip. What often took the most time was researching what to do: for some trips he would plan everything out beforehand, others he would do the research while en route. There are plenty of apps to help get you to where you want to go and stay at places without seedy atmospheres, but once you get there things are a bit more limited. This is especially true if you are traveling abroad and don’t want to pay for excessive data roaming fees. Essentially you are left with the options of a paper map, renting a GPS unit that hopefully has spoken English, a travel guide book, or expensive data fees (such as a replacement SIM card or global hotspot).

There are always the tradition options as well, such as the hotel concierge or local tour company. In many travel destinations both are available, but if you go off the beaten road, many times you are on your own or must hire a travel guide in advance. With this in mind, Waliszewski decided to develop a solution that solved these common problems he faced while traveling.

“I’m simply scratching my own itch with TripScout. My goal is to visit every country in the world and learn about each place along the way. This is the app I wanted to have while doing that,” said Waliszewski. “Today’s traveler wants to only carry around his or her phone and have everything they need there, not carry a printed guidebook or flip through dozens of websites.”

The plan is to help you skip the segways, double decker buses, and walking tours that put your experience on rails and within a certain period of time.

“Walking around a city at your own schedule and pace gives you the opportunity to find off the beaten path spots along the way and be open to spontaneous encounters with locals,” said Waliszewski. “We want TripScout to be the only thing you need to have a great travel experience once you book your trip.”

Social Good on a Local Level

During Waliszewski’s travels around the world, he has met with many cultures in need. Often during his trips he will meet with local nonprofit organizations who need regular support, and many of these are in large travel destinations. As a result, he is adding a local social good component to each travel guide.

“We donate 10% of all revenue to charity, and run campaigns to raise funds and drive awareness for inspiring causes.” According to Waliszewski, “5% of revenue from each city goes to that city’s select local cause and an additional 5% goes towards a larger global issue.”

Traveling to a new destination is often about more than just taking in the sights and enjoying the history, it’s about connecting with the locals.

“We believe that travelers have a unique insight and connection to the world around them, and we want to use that for good. Our app also provides travelers the opportunity to connect with a local charity on their trip and volunteer if they want. It’s our mission to leverage our travels and business to make the world a more awesome place for all.”

Because Washington DC is one of the first two city tours being launched with the app, one of their first campaigns will be to support Martha’s Table in Washington DC. They are currently seeking an organization with the right fit in Philadelphia.

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Elliot is an award winning journalist deeply ingrained in the startup world. He also runs a non-profit, Digital District, which focuses on improving professional digital literacy in DC. You can contact him by email at elliot(@)elliotvolkman.com or follow him on Twitter @thejournalizer.

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