Calling all “Suckers for Hot Women on Bicycles” (TCTV)
For the last few days we’ve been getting a series of increasingly loopy emails from a startup in Sweden asking us to write about their launch. (See photo to the left.) I realize this post may be the beginning of a slippery slope of relentless pitches from Scandinavians that ends up with someone breaking into my house to bring me a pitch and a latte.
But what the hell? I like lattes and TechCrunch was a site built on giving exposure to persistent, gutsy entrepreneurs building things because they wanted them to exist in the world and the series of very persistent pitches from Peter Sullivan of Vacation Relation epitomized that. So I did one better than a post and invited Sullivan on TechCrunchTV to talk about his company. Running on fumes from three days coding and no sleep, he didn’t disappoint.
Vacation Relation is another attempt to make travel social. While some other sites focus on connecting friends who happen to be in the same location, Vacation Relation focuses on connecting like-minded people who don’t necessarily know each other but like to do the same things and are the same age, looking for cool people to hang out with all around the world. Asking a total stranger to be your friend was awkward in kindergarten and it’s awkward when you’re in your 20s on a cruise with your family too.
The hardest problem Vacation Relation will have to solve is getting enough people to sign up that people can actually find someone their own age who surfs and will be in Rio next week. The site uses Facebook’s APIs to take out the pain of creating a new profile, user ID and password and make signing up as easy as possible. It is also partnering with a handful of tourism boards to send people to the site, focusing on places like Vegas and Spring Break hubs where people are more likely to want to mix and mingle. It’s also creating a white-label solution for companies like cruise lines.
Another challenge: Building a startup in Sweden. But it’s not as hard as you’d think, Sullivan argues. He moved from San Francisco to Sweden for the free education and “hot women on bicycles,” but he’s stayed to build this company there because of a lot of support and benefits the community has given him. Other countries worried about an entrepreneurial brain drain should pay attention.