As you have probably heard we recently led an $11m round in travel oriented social network WAYN.
I wasn’t able to scoop the Sunday Times exclusive with the news so I’m taking the opposite approach and reporting on all the coverage after the dust has settled. Maybe this time next year I’ll have the break on the established press….
WAYN is a site where people with a common interest in travel network with one another, both while they are travelling and back at home. It has 7m registered members and is growing at around 500,000 per month. The UK is the biggest geography, but over half the members are from other countries.
Some of the things I really like about WAYN and our deal are:
- It is a great site, very easy to use and navigate
- It has fantastic momentum
- They have a successful subscription based revenue model and are profitable
- There is a solid international base
- Fantastic syndicate of angels and board directors/advisors with internet travel pedigree
For sure there is still a long way to go – we have made a venture investment, but the base is very solid. I also like it that the stuff that needs to be done is an extension of what has been done already (work the new feature list to innovate like crazy, tweak the site to improve conversions, build on the US base, upgrade the IT infrastructure) – I don’t underestimate the challenge, but I take comfort from the fact that we don’t need to take any steps into the unknown. The toughest nut to crack will be getting the US going on a par with the UK. It has been pointed out that Americans travel less than Europeans – that is true of international travel, but travel within the US is still travel, so we are hopeful this challenge is manageable.
The subscription model is interesting. The trick has been putting enough into the free offering to drive growth in registrations and having a distinct offering with clear extra value for premium subscribers. Simply offering extra storage or allowing 10 photos instead of five doesn’t cut it. Some of the advantages of having a premium account include preferential positioning on search results, access to extra communication features and search tools (e.g. so you can find someone from San Francisco, who is also French, is aged 31-40 and has been to London, and interact with them). Going forward they are looking to introduce a number of exclusive travel and lifestyle benefits for paying subscribers, so watch this space…