Founded by Chuang Pei Han in 2011 which was later joined by Leong Jia Yong and Clement Tan, the website launched its Alpha version in April 2012 after a seed funding of SGD2.2million from Lunar Asia Investment Pte Ltd. After several rounds of iteration, the team launches its public beta last week. The website is current ranked 19778 globally and 63 in Singapore, according to Alexa (as of 13th July 2012), with its contents and recommendations contributed largely by users for users.
How the cofounder describes Qiito
Essentially, Qiito (pronounced as “Key-Tow”) wants to remove the pain point of scouring websites after websites for places to visit in a particular country. Cofounder Pei Han shared that “ Most of Gen X and Gen Y are no longer looking to engage travel agencies when we travel. We want an unique experience with full control over our travel itineraries. Most users turn to Google for places to go. However it is not the efficient way, and in fact it is still very tedious. Let say we do a specific search on ‘‘Top 10 places to go in Taiwan’, there will be thousands of sites for you to go through. And after you go through what do you do? You then take few hours to compile in your excel spreadsheet and it looks messy and ugly. Things do not stop here, you have to find out the address, map location, transportation and more, then try to make sense which place is near which. The whole process is just too much hassle to get something that you want. Qiito is designed and built to solve these problems, and we are proud to say that we are the only site that is built this way. We believe in visual, crowdsource contents, as well as instant planning. We are currently working on growing users’ interest.”
Features of the Qiito Website
Qiito features a highly visual website where users can browse travel itineraries created by other users and customize them into their own travel itineraries. One can also navigate through the various photo albums or travelogues to discover new places. Currently, some of the featured countries are Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong kong. The website also uses the popular masonry design and features a infinity scroll, a layout made popular by social pinboard website, Pinterest.
How Qiito differentiates from other travel websites
So how does Qiito differentiates from other travel site which seemed to be gaining its popularity? Unlike most startups which only focus on planning stage, Qiito took a step further by focusing not only on planning but also for discovery. “Websites which focus on planning might have a low traffic because users only come when they go for trips, but we are building a site that is visually inspiring so that travel lovers will not only visit us when they are planning for their trips, but also whenever they want to find out more about other places and to learn something that they never knew. Achieving vicarious travel is our aim and planning for a trip should be pleasing from the start, even you have no intention of traveling; Qiito is still a good place to kill time,” adds cofounder Pei Han.
From idea to funding to product development, and then revenue model
When the team secured its first round of funding from Lunar Asia back in July last year, cofounder Pei Han had no product, only a vision to sell. He managed to sell that vision for a good $2.2million dollars, which he used to hire a team of developers and designers. The funding sustained the team for more than one year without revenue. Throughout the year, Qiito has been focusing on product development and studying its competitor. After rounds of iteration, Qiito is now confident of its product, and is looking for revenue models. They are probably the few lucky ones who can enjoy the luxury of focusing on product development, and then move on to figure out how to monetize it.