With me today is Mark Seall, co-founder of Mapvivo.com. Mapvivo is a travel social network that I predict will be making big waves soon – welcome, Mark!
1 – Tell us a bit about your background.
I’ve spent the past 10 years working in a range of industries, from Telecoms to logistics to banking, mostly in project management or consulting roles. In 2004 I took 18 months off to do a full-time MBA, and when I realized that working in banking hadn’t given me the change I was looking for I got into the start up scene – first with Green Options Media, and now with MapVivo.
MapVivo was the brainchild of founders Mike, Tom and Wojtek. It was formerly in beta as mapness.net, and the guys managed to get angel funding for it earlier this year, at which point I joined the team. I was impressed when I saw the concept for the product and couldn’t wait to get started.
2 – Where does the name MapVivo come from and what made you think of the concept?
The name comes from weeks of brainstorming which resulted in a list of domain names that were actually available! But we like the name MapVivo because it’s all about bringing maps to life, which is what we try to do – bring journeys to life by placing your images and experiences onto a virtual map.
3 – MapVivo was launched last year, and then just relaunched this week – what plans do you have in store?
Lots! – Social networks are growing as a source of upstream travel referrals (the places where people hang out on the web immediately before they book travel). Online search solves the simple problems for people in terms of travel, but doesn’t help you so much if you are wondering what the best places are to visit in the Australian Outback, for example.
So our plans are – further develop the social aspects of the site (including comments, member messaging and joint travel journals), better leverage and integrate with existing social networks (the feature I love about MapVivo right now is the ability to update my journey, and then send this directly to my Facebook contacts) and develop search and tagging capabilities to help travelers benefit from the hard won travel experiences of others.
By the way – search for “Australian Outback” on MapVivo to get an idea of places to travel there.
4 – How will MapVivo embrace social media? I know that you have an interest in the subject.
As I mentioned, social media is becoming increasingly important in travel. We already allow users to share travel journals directly on Twitter or Facebook and we plan to further improve integration in future releases – we are keeping an eye on Facebook Connect, and on other similar developments. We also want to start using social media not just as a source of traffic, or as an address book – there is a tremendous amount of value out there in terms of the conversations and interactions that take place, and we have some ideas about how we can leverage that value for our users. But I won’t say too much about these plans just yet.
5 – What is your ultimate goal with MapVivo.com?
Our ultimate goal? We want to provide an amazing resource for travelers to help them share the magic of travel, and to get the most out of their journeys all the way from planning to getting home and wondering about the next trip.
6 – I know that the travel industry as a whole has really taken a hit in the world economic slowdown. Why start a travel business now?
Well, the travel industry won’t be down for ever. Travel is part of the human endeavor, and even if people are traveling a little less they can still be a part of the travel experience on MapVivo! Like most industries travel will recover, and we are busy building value for when it does.
7 – Any final thoughts?
Above all, we hope people enjoy using our product – that’s what’s ultimately important above all the strategy and social media talk! If people enjoy it then the rest will come together.
- MapVivo.com – The World’s Online Travel Journal (killerstartups.com)