Duara Travels, the winner of our first Impact Business Competition in 2015, graduated last week from the ’16 batch of Summer of Startups, Aalto ES’s 9-week accelerator program. We sat down with Duara’s Johanna Vierros on the final Demo Day to catch up on their journey so far.
The last time we talked in March you were about to begin user testing. What has happened since then?
We’ve indeed progressed with the user testing and our test travellers have so far completed 50 nights in Tanzania. This includes customers who found our service by themselves! The first two were students who spent a week in our Likamba community and gave us our best feedback yet. The experience really left a mark on them. The feedback from the other test travellers has also been very positive, and we’re so pleased with that.
What have you learned from the pilot testing?
One important lesson has been in how to set the expectations for the travellers. We’ve got to provide them information on the destination, but be careful not to overwhelm them. Good preparation covers enough relevant information that adds value to the travellers’ experience.
How about the past nine weeks here at Startup Sauna? What were the key takeaways for you in Summer of Startups?
First and foremost we’ve become part of the startup ecosystem here. It’s been fantastic to get to know the community and see the 13 other SoS teams make progress with their ideas.
In terms of our business development, we benefited a great deal from the workshops during the program. We also met some truly stellar coaches during the summer who we’ll definitely reach out to for sparring and advice in the future.
Now that you mentioned future, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
We have all four team members ready to work full-time from now until the end of the year. We still need to lock down our target milestones, but we will surely focus on increasing the volume of our travellers. An official launch of our Sri Lankan communities is also on the way, along with two new countries we’ve scouted in Southeast Asia. It’ll be an exciting time that will show whether Duara really takes off the ground.
Duara connects travellers with local communities to drive micro-entrepreneurship in Africa, Asia and Latin America. If you would like to experience a different way of travelling, subscribe to their newsletter or become a pilot traveller at duaratravels.com.
Written by Roope Kiviranta