July 2, 2019

Travltalk Product Development #1: How It Started

Travltalk Product Development covers our development journey from an idea in Rhiannon’s head to a fully realized platform that lets travellers connect, share costs, and sell stuff as they explore the world.

Seventeen years feels like an eternity on the Internet. Facebook didn’t exist and the Lonely Planet was often the only reliable source of information on the roads less travelled. In 2002, at the age of 19, Rhiannon left Australia for the first time to travel around Europe during her University summer break. Immediately bitten by the travel bug, Rhiannon then spent the next 10 years backpacking over 80 countries.

Realising that a life of travel couldn’t quite pay the bills, Rhiannon went to live in London in 2009. Over the next five years, she continued backpacking, staying in a total of 300 hostels during her travels.
Hostel common rooms are one of the most fascinating places to meet people in the world, but even as more millennials were travelling abroad, it was harder and harder to make new connections.

With the rise of Airbnb it was getting harder to connect with new people in unfamiliar cities. The rise of social media made it easier to travel solo. As a result, old-fashioned word-of-mouth was being phased out by travel blogs. SEO reigned supreme as the great content was often lost in the back pages of Google.

In 2013, Rhiannon left London and travelled for 6 months, passing through Eastern Europe, Russia, Mongolia, China, Myanmar and Japan before settling down in Sydney. Along the way, it became apparent that there was no reliable way to meet travellers when you arrived in a location, share the cost of travel with those who wanted to do the same thing, or make arrangements ahead of time with people travelling to the same city.

With that in mind, Rhiannon formed the initial concept of Travlyfe and Travltalk in January 2015. Bringing it to life took a product pivot, a move from Sydney back to London, raising to date a total of £430,000, and a steadfast belief that the millennial generation needed a way to connect with people while it travelled the globe.

The React Native version of Travltalk was released on Apple and Google Play stores June 25th, 2018. In our next post, we’ll talk about our earliest prototypes.

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