Today on OK, Intrnt we speak to Hugo Allary, founder of Trampolinn – which is a lovechild of AirBnB and Couchsurfing. As someone who has traveled extensively, Hugo might just have found the sweet spot here.
Trampolinn is AirBnB and Couchsurfing but yet it is very different from the two. Can you tell us a bit about Trampolinn?
Trampolinn comes from a the words ‘Tramp’, meaning wanderer and ‘inn’ – meaning a hostel. So it sort of means that it is a vagabond hostel. In a sense it is a trampoline that you use to jump from one house to another.
Could you tell us about the idea and how it works?
We’re trying to change the home-exchange concept – which itself is an old concept from the 60s! Basically how home exchange works is that you pay an annual subscription to be part of the platform. You usually pay a couple of hundred € per year. Moreover, if you live in a small town in France and you want to go to New York, you need to convince or attract a New Yorker to your home – because it is a reciprocal or mutual exchange.
To take on this very constraint, our platform is free and we do not charge our users. We introduced a virtual currency and so it’s essentially a trade of nights. You earn points by hosting some travelers and you can using these points for free!
For instance, some guy from Saint-Etienne hosts a guy from Limoges, he can use his points to spend a few nights in New York.
So you’re solving the biggest problem that home exchanges have – which is “having to travel at the same time as you host!”
Yes – you can travel whenever you want and it’s free. We just charge for services. If you spend a week in New York, we charge you something like 10€. We’re also trying to solve the Couchsurfing problem. While it’s cool for young people and backpackers, when you’re a couple or with your family, it’s hard to take just a couch. Also, on Couchsurfing, there are 10 million users but only about half a million couches. On Trampolinn, everybody is a host so it is more fair. Also, we are avoiding the legal issues that usually bug AirBnB.
How many users do you have for the moment and how many listings?
We launched a year ago in March 2014. It was quite difficult in the beginning, it was our first company so we had to learn a lot. We found the right solutions to grow around the end of 2014. Since October 2014 we have gathered more than 27,000 members across 150 countries. So we’re pretty worldwide right now. At the moment, we have 12,000 accommodations. We actually grew faster than AirBnB.
Was it mostly word of mouth?
At the beginning it was a little bit of growth hacking but since the beginning of 2015 we stopped all communication because of lack of a budget. So it was basically just referrals and word of mouth. We also award points for inviting friends.
In a sense, it is a community of travelers rather than a marketplace.
Yes, that is the difference between AirBnB and us. They have a lot of travelers but not enough hosts. It’s going to be another Booking.com soon! Very soon we will also match profiles on a lot of criteria and suggest trips to you.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
We have 8 people working full time right now, all freelancers. I used to work as a broker in Shanghai six years ago. I crossed the world by bicycle to stay in Shanghai after seven months of traveling and I found this job. It was my first step with locals – I used to travel with my tent so I used to meet a lot of locals in Mongolia and China. I returned to France after working in Shanghai for a year and started working for Amaury Sports, the organizer of Tour de France. I was almost always abroad – but I used to travel in hotels. I tried subletting my flat, tried Couchsurfing. I tried almost everything but I felt there was something lacking. This is when the idea of Trampolinn was born.
I then went to the US because I quit my job to be an entrepreneur in the web domain. I had to take some courses and to know the latest happenings in the silicon valley. I met Sebastian, my cofounder in New York and we began working on Trampolinn a few months later. He joined me full time in early 2014 and we started working full time.
Right now our office is in Barcelona. We’re headquartered in Paris, but we work out of Barcelona. In Barcelona we burn lesser money, the sun is better and so is the beach. We also travel a lot to meet our users and travel together to use our concept!
You clearly understand the nature of travelling. All the best for your fundraising!
I’ve been traveling for several years. Even with a good idea – well, I don’t know if it is a good idea, I hope it is – but it’s very hard to find funds, to find people who believe in it and convert users to customers. It’s hard to fight and you need to follow your dream!
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As part of OK, Intrnt’s efforts to connect people, we asked Hugo if he would like to speak to some of our readers directly and he happily agreed! Write to us and we will get back to you and tell you how you can reach him!
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