Startup in the Making – Twisper, the app for the “sophisticated lifestyle consumer”

Michelle Kuepper 2012-11-06 6

The team behind Twisper, an  iOS and web app that seeks out unique locations in cities around the world, is working around the clock to prepare for their January 15 launch. I caught up with the two enigmatic co-founders, David de Brito and Darius Moeini, who told VentureVillage about what not to expect on the app and how team Twisper are “huggy people”…

Hi guys, who are you and what are you doing?

Hi, this is Darius Moeini, the COO and co-founder (pictured on the right), and I’m David de Brito, the CEO and co-founder of Twisper.

Twisper – The Smart Location Diary – is a web and mobile app for the iPhone that suggests unique travel locations to its members. Using an extensive database and a powerful search engine, members receive recommendations based on their interests, usage and social connections. Follow people, favourite locations you love or bookmark places that catch your eye into your Wanna Go diary. It is a guide, a diary and a powerful new social resource for executive travellers, cultural trendsetters and the sophisticated lifestyle consumer.

Imagine you live in Berlin and you bookmark your most loved locations locally, from restaurants to hotels, clubs, bars, cafes and shops. Now you’re going to London, you open Twisper and “boom”, you get recommendations for London – based on your Berlin favourites and recommendations of your social network. We believe travelling should be tailor-made and unique to you, not impersonal and faceless.

How did the founders meet and how did you guys come up with your idea? 

The whole thing started a couple of years ago, I (David) was working as a concierge for Thomas Sterchi (the Swiss-based founder of jobs.ch), who is the president of Twisper. While I was working for him, I started developing a bookmarking system to document the most beautiful things I found in the world. Soon, the two of us realized it’s not just difficult to bookmark places, but also to find the right things for the right people and to make it mobile. That’s when we met Darius – a locations-based service expert. After a couple of bottles of wine, too many maybe, and some discussion on our projects and what we are doing, Darius fell in love with Twisper and joined the team.

The nice thing about the Twisper ecosystem is that, while we all share this same vision of where we want to be and the features we want it to have, we come from different backgrounds. And we’re huggy people at Twisper!


What makes you different from everyone else?

The competition landscape is huge – it’s booming. There are many apps and products. But we have three things setting us apart – one: we’re focusing on unique and beautiful locations; two: we believe in both social and interest graph, we put a lot of thought and resources into this; three: we have a great ecosystem in the Twisper family: We have Thomas and David as hospitality experts, I come from a management consulting background, and our development partners Creative Construction Heroes with their IT experience. Together with the Tom Talent Holding and its several successful companies we bring together a lot of expertise and creativity.

What is your business model? And how big is the market potential?

We’re working with two different strategy panels at the moment – the first is a panel focusing on the users, the other is focusing on the location owners. We’re developing features that will optimize the travel experience on both sides – not in the first release though. We can’t go into too much detail though!

As for the market potential, it’s huge, it’s going to boom in the coming years, there’s a lot of space for competitors but we’re going to concentrate on what we’re doing and do it really well, to stand out. The market is hot. But if you find your niche you can gain value from it.

We think we have a good chance of succeeding because we’re global and we’re focusing on urban regions in Europe. You’ll find us in the biggest cities, with amazing content and locations.

Who is financing you?

We are working on financing – give us a few weeks. We’re not nervous, but I can’t say much more. 

Is there something that you missing?

We are searching for talented people. We have an open door – there is such competition in Berlin for talented people and marketers. We’ll receive anyone with open arms!

Who would you like to have a lunch with and what would you talk about?

Moeini: I’d meet Carl Sagan and talk about his book The Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.

De Brito: I’d meet Vinicius de Morais, a brazilian singer, and would like to talk about his poetry and music.

Where do you hope to be in a years’ time?

We’ll have several platforms we’re on and we’ll have launched with Android too, though we’re starting with iOS. We’ll  be perceived as the most trusted platform for suggestions. The German-speaking world is our primary focus. But, of course, we will be quite representative in a year. And we will have a web app too. The web app is to dream – so you can plan a trip somewhere else and imagine yourself in these locations. So if you’re organising a trip you can browse places and put the ones you like on your ‘wanna go list’ – so you can easily access them once you get there.

What are your recommendations for berlin?

De Brito: I love Katz Orange, Grill Royal, Schusta, Banh Mi sandwiches. It’s so different for each of us though. That’s the beauty of Twisper, it’s not curated, we adapt to your tastes.

Image credit: Flickr user …-Wink-…

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