The world is getting smaller and smaller, and the competitive traveling industry makes it therefor more affordable to visit different places. All of us here have seen many amazing destinations in the world, both with the team and as individuals.
We thought it would therefor be a good idea to provide our followers with a weekly dosis of city trip inspiration. We are not going to write essays or guided tours for you, we are just providing you with a picture which in our eyes really sums up what this place is all about.
For us Stockholm is of course an obvious choice. Although I am pretty sure that this journalist got his martini in one of Stockholms expensive hotels I thought it was an interesting read that provides a good impression how visitors see Stockholm.
Feel free to provide us with tips which we can share with our followers again.
It has been quiet an exciting time ever since we started our first iteration in February this year. We have been covered in global press, got selected into one of the most prestigious tech accelerators, moved our office to NY, launched a brand new service (both on the web and iOS) and connected with the leaders in technology to just name a few. Apart from that we have been attending many conferences, of which TheNextWeb Conference and Techcrunch Disrupt are the biggest names.
Conferences are expensive, far away, the outcomes are hard to predict and often you can follow everything live through a stream online.
Is it therefor really worth your time, and money, to attend these events? I am sure many people will feel like a couple of thousands of dollars is slightly over-prized for 3 days of partying and collecting swag with fellow tech entrepreneurs.
This May we attended Techcrunch Disrupt in NY, an event which traditionally is recognized as one of the most important anual tech events. As a co-sponsor our investors had the possibility to let us have a table for the entire three day event, right next to the entrance to the main speaker room. Convinced that this was a golden spot we started out by addressing everybody who was passing by. Even though the response from the people we actually spoke with was good we came to find out that there weren’t many people interested in a chat. There weren’t actually so many people moving around at all.
Techcrunch Disrupt was packed with vendors, and therefor the amount of attendees was limited. Vendors felt obliged to continue hosting their own table and therefor the event (in my eyes) was lacking the necessary amount of interaction. Without taking action this would influence the outcomes of this conference in a very bad way. So how do you make the best out of an event like this?
- First of all, depending on the available wifi, it allows you to get some work done.
- Second of all, if you are with more, it is a great opportunity to go and find out what else is happening in the industry. Wander around and start conversations with likeminded people.
- Attend relevant lectures and ask as much intelligent questions as possible while mentioning your company name clearly. As many people watch the live streams and the room is filled with journalists this is a great way to get their attention.
- Have open discussions with fellow vendors in order to find partnerships or introductions.
- Try to, somehow, get your hands on the attendee and press list of the event.
- Get feedback. Many of the people who are there know the industry and the problems you are facing, make them believe in your product and let them help you make it better. Many of the people we have met are still talking about us, these are valuable ambassadors of your brand.
But not every event is like this, for a conference organizer the hard task is to find a perfect mix between vendors, attendees, press and investors to attend the event. TheNextWeb Conference in Amsterdam earlier this year really succeeded in that. We have been able to do all of the above and apart from that demo our product to many attendees, talk with investors who came to our table and as an additional bonus the press knew where to find us.
Attending conferences is good for many reasons, it allows you to stay up to date, get your name out there and if you can present or have a table it’ll help your enormously with building credibility and exposure. However make sure that you have done your homework, know who is coming and who you want to meet, who you want to listen to and what you will do when not many people will come to see you. Connect with people through Twitter before going and follow closely what is going on during the event.
In the end the success is often determined by how engaged, curious and interesting the crowd is!
And of course, after a long day of work, a beer is always a good idea …. we sure enjoyed it!
This post was written by Nicolas Grasset, CTO at Tripl, formerly creative technology director at the swedish digital agency RIVER and software engineer at Yahoo! Mobile. Follow him on Twitter: @fellowshipofone
Big data is a very hot area right now with new technical possibilities available to smaller companies and many industries that have yet to benefit from big data analysis or “smarter” products. More common with web analytics, finance and enterprise solutions, Tripl is building a product with Big Data for Travel. We are starting with a consumer product and evolving into an open platform for the industry to tap into. In this post, I describe how we came across these new big data problems in everyday life and the challenges involved.
Tripl, time geography and paths
The problem we are trying to solve is simple, we want to help people meet, whether they are traveling or being locals in their own city. And while the problem itself is fairly social already, we also want to leverage their social graph together with friends recommendations to make these meetings more meaningful in time. So in terms of data, we look at four main dimensions:
Location: where are you? We store it as geo-coordinates visualize it at a city level, and plan the UI so that Brooklyn and Manhattan are both different part New York City at different distances from Jersey City, NJ.
Time: when are you traveling, or when were you last spotted somewhere? Time helps us visualize future plans or recent check-ins.
Social: how are you related to these other person? Are you friends, do you know anyone in common, etc.
Interest: are there any passions or activities that could be reasons for you to meet someone? We use this information mostly for relevance sorting at the moment
As a result, we have can build a time-space path for each of our users, which illustrate the movement and limitations of individuals across time and space, and how these paths may overlap. So at first we want to gather enough data to accurately identify these overlaps in the context of travel, not just when two locals stay at home, and then highlight the most relevant of them.
Why now: active vs passive data
There are two ways we can compile information about time and location for users: we can ask them, this is the active data, or we can infer that they are traveling from data we gather on other services, most often the passive data.
There are different ways to collect future travel intent. Tripl has its own interface to store planned trips, and we have already integrated with Trip It to import planned trips made there. Going forward, we plan on connecting with different social media services, and most importantly with any actual travel agency, airlines or hotel websites which hold even more accurate plans.
But as we try to make our service useful immediately to any new users, waiting for a critical mass of users is not an option. In the past months, Facebook started geo-tagging every photo or status messages, and Foursquare and Instagram have been growing their user-base faster than ever. Much of this information such as geo-tagged photos or check-ins can give hints about unannounced trips or future plans, they represent the passive data which is becoming key to making Tripl more accurate already at signup while decreasing our need for a critical mass of users.
Juggling between different database solutions
A typical query is “Who will be in San Francisco next weekend, for how long, how do I know them?”.
User location in time: A way to look at it is to first solve the user-location problem in time “in San Francisco next weekend and for how long”; easily scalable, we can just store user locations with dates as layers. Each entry, home location or a trip, is rarely updated, but as we build up integrations, more entries are added all the time. And obviously the read-frequency is very high. Different NoSQL databases such as MongoDB offer perfect solutions for this problem.
Social: The second part of the question, “how do I know them”, is more typically a graph problem. As long as the amount of users remains reasonable, we can easily emulate a graph behavior with a relational database. The social graph is frequently updated with new nodes (users) during the early stages of the product, but as their friends join, the graph edges (relationships) are the elements more often updated. In the context of travel, the first degree of separation (friends) and second degree (friends of friends) are by far the most interesting ones, but two levels still mean a very large amount of nodes to update frequently which makes caching at the user level very inefficient and the use of relational database expensive. This is why we are exploring different scaling options such as dynamic caching with Redis or new projects on distributed graph databases based on Hadoop.
So one of the biggest challenges Tripl is setting out to solve is to combine both the time-geography queries with social-graph queries. There are several ways of doing it once data is stored on multiple data-store instead of a single relational database cluster:
if a user has a small network and travel to a busy city, it might be more efficient to first get a list of friends and friend of friends and then check them against the city travelers and locals at that time
if a user has a large social network and travel to a quiet city, it might be more efficient to first get a list of travelers and locals at that time in the city and then check them against the social network
and if no clear pattern emerges, we then need to handle more cases such as extending the radius around a city in case the number of users visiting is too little (think about back-packers in south-east Asia), or simply rely on a more appropriate database engine once the data-set gets too big
In the end, much of the problem is about understanding the data, simplifying the queries and visualization to focus on what matters, rely on statistics and pre-computing depending on patterns (conferences, spring-break, summer vacation, holidays, …). We are just getting started, it will get more complex with much more data types, and this is an exciting area to be working on as new project emerge all the time. We hope to be able to contribute ourselves, and for that we are hiring, so feel free to contact us!
Not sure if you have missed it, but Tripl has been getting some recent press after starting to unveil the product to the public. Although we aren’t ready to start a real press circuit until we get the product exactly where we want it, its a good start. Use the links below to find the articles from each of these well known publications:
“With a Little Help From Your Friends” - Wall Street Journal
“Tripl Social Travel Launches Publicly” - Artic Startup
These are two words we love at Tripl. But we often get confused about the term ‘social travel’. What does it mean? Our friends at Tnooz published an article from one of our co-founders, David Los, trying to get to the bottom of this. Read and add your thoughts here…
Summer has finally reached Sweden and the beach is calling, but we’re all stuck in Stockholm making a shiny new travel app for you. So here are some top travel destinations from the team:
New York City, USA. One of the most amazing cities. So much energy, so much going on. A great place just to take everything in. - David
Istanbul, Turkey. Great city and everybody you meet is so nice. I also have friends in the city. - Nicolas
China. This country is developing at high speed. It’s amazing to see. And I love their food. - Fredrik
Ibiza, Spain. Sun, happy people and beach parties. Need I say more? - Moose
Dubai, UAE. My son really wants to visit Dubai because of the dinosaurs and crazy stuff. - Erik