Not everyone can afford to satisfy a bad case of wanderlust. Some of us would instead sit at home, smartphone in hand, and scroll away, bookmarking places we would like to visit, while our more enthusiastic counterparts travel the world.


Edwyn Chan, CEO and Founder, Spottly

Well, Spottly aims to help both avid and novice travellers mark, share and explore through the Beta version of its iOS app. In April 2013, the startup announced receiving seed investment from Rui Ma of 500Startups, a Silicon-Valley early-stage fund and startup accelerator.

The app is now available in 12 languages (English, Chinese Simplified and Traditional, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Malay, Vietnamese, Indonesian, French, Italian and German).

In just two weeks, Spottly was selected by Apple to be featured on the iOS App Store’s “Best New Apps” in some 15 markets (Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Brunei, Cambodia, and Laos. The publicity gave Spottly a boost in download numbers and a loyal fan base.

Spottly claimed that one particular user had created more than 50 original content posts over two days as she was “so excited to start her very own travel guide.”

Edwyn Chan, Founder and CEO, Spottly, told e27 that the idea came from wanting to solve his own travel journaling woes. He said that he has a “really bad” memory, and wanted to save locations he liked as easily as web pages. He also added that he seldom tries new spots, often visiting familiar places or ones recommended by trustworthy friends.

Features of the app include submitting of original photos, grabbing photographs from the web, and reposting friends’ notes. Users are also able to build lists, use the map function to figure their way around, discover and organise information through hashtags and sync their notes to Facebook, Weibo and WeChat.

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Screen capture of Spottly

With a bevy of travel journal-related apps available in the market, what is it that sets Spottly apart from its competitors? Chan said that while “there are other apps that do similar things,” Spottly “wraps all of the useful functions and re-combines them in a simple and elegant manner.”

One example would be their user-generated travel guides which are made in a pictorial format. He explained, “Users don’t want to see a bunch of texts when looking at reviews.”

Personally, while there are a number of such services, it is the user experience and interface which sets Spottly apart. The app is generally simple to use, and doesn’t frustrate the user with too many processes. While it might resemble Pinterest, it’s definitely more of an Instagram-meets-Foursquare in a photo-meets-location way.

With the app currently in Beta, Chan noted that they are focusing on promoting the app, with a focus on “avid travellers who can create really compelling content.” Their strategy is to invest heavily in getting the “right type of content creators.”

While the app does not have a revenue model implemented right now, Chan said that there are several ideas that will have to wait until Spottly reaches a certain scale.

What can users look forward to seeing from Spottly in the next six months? Chan said that the company will be hiring two engineers to debug and build a better app for their fans. They are also planning to roll out an Android and web version soon.

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