Interview App Founder -Rola Fayyad
Name of Founder: Rola Fayyad (RF)
Name of Company: Friendture
Name of App: Friendture
App Category: Travel Tech
Free or Paid App: Free
Is the App created for a certain country/area or worldwide: Worldwide
Friendture mobile app is a tailored tour guide and marketplace for expats and travelers to discover and buy experiences, and meet like-minded communities while traveling, based on their location & interests. Group travelers can benefit from the dynamic tools, to create & manage their own experiences, engage and handle payments with each other.
As Founder of this fantastic App, what was your motivation in creating it?
RF: “Being an airliner for the last decade, I travelled a lot for business and leisure with friends. The time consuming process to try to discover and plan trips exhausted me, and instead of being excited, I ended up agitated due to the long process. Especially when travelling as a group, the slightest thing like setting a date for the trip, is a hassle. We used around 4 mobile apps for a complete process from creation to execution, and finally sharing memories. I know there was an easier way to do this with less debating and tens of messages.
Why should App Users download this App?
RF: “To streamline planning vacations hassle-free and instantly being able to discover tailored made experiences based on their interest and location. Instead of spending tens of hours, through multiple websites with a lot of user generated content that can be bias, simply land in the airport, open our app, and get matched to authenticated experiences and communities based on your interests.”
What are the advantages compared to other similar App’s?
RF: “We are building a Slack for travelers, basically combining an average of 4 apps into one to avoid letting the user download multiple apps. Our competitive advantage is focusing on group travelers, who now can easily create their own experiences and travel groups, engage through a chat system, share photos without jamming their phone memory, and split costs.”
Can you tell something about the process, challenges, hurdles and time spent from the moment you start (The Idea) till the moment you launched the App at the AppStore / GooglePlay?
RF: “Where do I start! I started Friendture late 2016 and prior to our pivot, we were a group activity planner. I was once told I was a Mark Zuckerberg wannabe by investors, and that a female middle eastern isn’t the right persona to build a social app. I hustled my way, and was determined to prove them wrong. When we won Challenge 22 in 2017, we were acknowledged by Randi Zuckerberg who ensured my investors knew I was not just another Facebook. Investment was very tight at the start, and I had to continue my full day job, to pay the salaries of the developers. I had very bad experiences with developers who managed to take salaries but never deliver the app or any outcome. Thankfully today, I have a great in-house team led by our co-founder and cto Ibrahim Abu Rjab, who managed to run our tech department efficiently.
Once you launched the App in the Appstore / GooglePlay, what did you do to promote this App to your target audience (user group)? Do you think Applepies (as worldwide rating and reviewing Online App Magazine) can have a certain role in this?
RF: “As a startup with a very limited budget, we had to depend on organic growth and strategic partners, which made our growth very slow. I think Applepies will be able to highlight the best apps with unbiased rating and create effective marketing for us founders who don’t want to only depend on digital marketing strategies.
You as a visionary person, what is your view on the new technologies of the digital smartphone (App) world. Do you think that within 1 to 5 years App’s will be indispensable?
RF: “That’s for sure, I remember 15 years ago in high school, we studied robotics and technology and were told one day they will replace our jobs, never believed it then and said no-way! Hello Siri :)”
Are you currently (still) looking for investments or funds to finalize or optimize your App?
RF: “Yes, we closed a total of $230,000 since 2016, noting $175,000 was in a non-equity round. We are currently raising $ 500,000.”
Are you familiar with the definition monetization (how to earn money with your App)? Are you open to advertisement companies advertising through your App?
RF: “Friendture offers businesses unique tools to sell experiences in an effective manner, we will only allow experience providers and businesses to use advertisements, to ensure they have a higher return on investment.”
Wat is the business model of the App (how does the App earns money?) Think of advertisements, premium subscriptions in the App etc.?
RF: “We work on a commission and revenue share model with the experience providers. As for advertisements, yes for the experience providers. We are also developing a ‘Platform as a service’ (PAAS) model for entities to have their own travel marketplaces without the hassle of technology.”
Last but not least is there anything you want to recommend other App Founders/Creators?
RF: “For non-technical founders, definitely get a technical co-founder onboard. The exhaustion and time wasted in departments you don’t know well, could be better invested in what you do the best.”