WAYN logo jpg

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….

The news has been covered in The Sunday Times (thanks for the lack of DRM), by Fred Destin, Brad Feld, Kris Nair, Red Herring and Alarm Clock Euro.  Thanks everyone.

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…

  • J Simpson

    On the one hand, you’ve invested in a site that has a big user base, but I’m skeptical about that user base. I got lots of “invites” to join wayn, but these were usually followed by apologies from friends who said they weren’t sure how the invites even got sent. This semi-voluntary inviting is a good way to build a user base to attract attention and capital, but you’d better make sure they change their ways. For now they have a slight leg up on tripconnect.com, realtravel, tripmates and others who also have social component but have refrained from spamming, but that won’t last if they don’t change their way of attracting new users.

  • J Simpson

    On the one hand, you’ve invested in a site that has a big user base, but I’m skeptical about that user base. I got lots of “invites” to join wayn, but these were usually followed by apologies from friends who said they weren’t sure how the invites even got sent. This semi-voluntary inviting is a good way to build a user base to attract attention and capital, but you’d better make sure they change their ways. For now they have a slight leg up on tripconnect.com, realtravel, tripmates and others who also have social component but have refrained from spamming, but that won’t last if they don’t change their way of attracting new users.

  • nic

    Thanks for the comment. You are right that WAYN used to be a bit spammy, and that is no way to build a large and loyal following. They have made a number of changes to the sign in process to rectify this situation. I would be interested to hear if your experiences don’t seem to have changed.

    best,
    Nic

  • nic

    Thanks for the comment. You are right that WAYN used to be a bit spammy, and that is no way to build a large and loyal following. They have made a number of changes to the sign in process to rectify this situation. I would be interested to hear if your experiences don’t seem to have changed.

    best,
    Nic

  • ming666

    yawn. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    whats next lidiot.com?

  • ming666

    yawn. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    whats next lidiot.com?

  • johnyD

    well to be honest…..this invitation are not so bad…you don’t need to sign up and if you want to cancel your account it is sooo simple….still i met so many great people here so i am happy as hell….good step guys;)

  • johnyD

    well to be honest…..this invitation are not so bad…you don’t need to sign up and if you want to cancel your account it is sooo simple….still i met so many great people here so i am happy as hell….good step guys;)

  • PWilliams

    I came across WAYN last year and thought: interesting concept – definitely something I could have used when I was travelling back in the day – Community based service with a location feel gives it an interesting angle – I agree with johny actually – I did receive a few invites too but found it quite useful for me as it allowed me to get back in touch with a mate from Uni I had not seen in ages – Good luck with the site Nic.

  • PWilliams

    I came across WAYN last year and thought: interesting concept – definitely something I could have used when I was travelling back in the day – Community based service with a location feel gives it an interesting angle – I agree with johny actually – I did receive a few invites too but found it quite useful for me as it allowed me to get back in touch with a mate from Uni I had not seen in ages – Good luck with the site Nic.