In the summer time of 2019, Timilehin Ajiboye turned intrigued with the thought of constructing a journey app after conversations with a circle of mates.
One buddy reached out to Ajiboye asking if he knew of any platform the place she may discover new, aesthetically pleasing places to dine in, go to and take photos. And then, throughout a visit to Miami, he and his mates actively sought out beautiful places to eat — and take pictures.
No doubt: These wants are fairly useless. But Backdrop just isn’t in contrast to different world social media platforms that permit customers to take ephemeral images, flex their way of life on disappearing tales or discover hundreds of thousands of personalised brief movies.
And whereas social media, rising exponentially over the previous decade, has modified the best way we talk and join, it has additionally modified how we journey.
More than 36% of social media customers use platforms for journey concepts, according to Statista; over 60% of those individuals share images when touring.
Instagram controls most of this site visitors, but Ajiboye believes that the method of sourcing travel-related information on the platform has turn into ridiculously time-consuming. He argues that huge platforms like Instagram that enterprise into any content material created a need for area of interest platforms.
“Instagram is like an operating system for pictures. Everything is happening on Instagram — travel, beauty, e-commerce. Same with Pinterest,” he stated to TechCrunch in an interview. “Increasingly, you’ll find that for some people, they use these platforms for travel and there hasn’t been any experience created for travel that takes into consideration 2021, which is people like to take pictures in front of places that look great and share with their friends.”
Social media and journey
There’s at present no go-to platform to discover engaging places only for the sake of it. The founders say Backdrop is primarily constructed for this, in addition to journey discovery.
For occasion, vacationers vacationing in Dubai and in search of stylish places have a tendency to do three issues: quiz mates and acquaintances, run a Google search, or punch in a hashtag on Instagram.
“If you run a Google search or use Instagram, everything comes up, including results irrelevant to your search,” Odufuwa stated. “If you’re looking for pink restaurants in Dubai, you might not be able to get that on Instagram, and Backdrop changes all of that.”
With Backdrop, customers can discover and share beautiful places to take photos based mostly on their pursuits and standards. The founders imagine that with post-pandemic journey turning into extra complicated, Backdrop can function a journey companion for millennials and Gen Zs, particularly these obsessed with touring to fairly places.
The vital information on every backdrop contains opening and shutting occasions, handle (linked to Google Maps), price and entry charge (if any), Wi-Fi availability, pet coverage, out of doors seating, wheelchair entry, and costume code.
TechCrunch spoke to a number of Backdrop beta customers. Depending on their pursuits, two camps emerged. Some take pleasure in its Collection characteristic, which permits them to save backdrops, combining the worlds of Google Maps and Pinterest. Others favor the Explore characteristic, viewing it as a mixture of Google Maps and Instagram.
With hashtags, customers can discover particular places, and the “Backdrop Near Me” characteristic permits them to discover different places they’ll go to shut to their present Backdrop location.
The firm has a photograph analysis workforce that finds these places throughout 26 cities globally. They additionally take photos and enter the required information in every backdrop.
While Backdrop wouldn’t touch upon the variety of customers in beta, the founders say its analysis workforce has collated 1000’s of images from these cities: Amsterdam, Dubai, Istanbul, London, Los Angeles, New York, Seoul, Paris, Tokyo, Cape Town, New Orleans, San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, Marrakech, Fez, Tangier, Rabat, Cancun, Cabo, Tulum, Lagos, Abuja, Madrid and Valencia. On common, there are 100 to 300 photos in every metropolis on the platform.
Using a devoted workforce to add photos just isn’t scalable in the long term and Backdrop is aware of this. Therefore, the corporate permits customers to add backdrops themselves and enter the required information on every. Other customers overview the posts earlier than itemizing on the platform, both by upvotes or downvotes. They may overview others and earn redeemable factors for serving to construct the group.
“That’s how we’re trying to transition from having to personally curate backdrops and letting the community decide the sort of backdrops that make it to the platform,” Ajiboye stated.
“While there are cases where not necessarily the best photo or content is on top of the search, there’s a kind of democracy involved in crowdsourcing votes on content or, in our case, backdrops. From our end, we try to detect if the information is accurate, too, automatically.”
Backdrop plans to add 20 extra cities this 12 months and has secured a six-figure family-and-friends spherical to scale the product. But with scale comes extra duty, a phrase the three founders have grown accustomed to through the years.
The trio met over six years in the past at a Zikoko, an Africa-focused youth publication, and their careers in tech and digital media branched out from there.
Odufuwa, who acts as Backdrop CEO, leads PR for Binance in Africa. She can be the co-founder of the Feminist Coalition, a Nigeria-based womens’ rights and equality group, alongside Eweniyi, who’s Backdrop’s COO.
Eweniyi can be the COO at PiggyVest, some of the well-liked fintech platforms in Nigeria.
CTO Ajiboye is the manager and technical head at crypto-powered remittance product Sendcash and YC-backed cryptocurrency platform Buycoins.
Building a worldwide product
While the founders have dealt with a number of ventures, they’ve primarily been Nigeria- or Africa-focused. But Backdrop is sort of totally different; the goal market is a worldwide one. So I couldn’t assist however ask the founders: Did they really feel targeted or succesful sufficient to run the corporate?
Odufuwa answered by saying operating a worldwide product isn’t any totally different. Because every founder has run a number of ventures in fast succession, they won’t see any drawback including Backdrop to the combo.
“I think we [millennials and GenZs] are just really good at juggling. And though it might come with exhaustion and burnout, you learn to juggle and I think that’s life in general. But I know we’re 100% committed.”
Ajiboye added that whereas the founders are nice teammates and leaders, they are going to need to construct a worldwide workforce to maintain the corporate in the long term.
“People have done way more complex things all at the same time, so I don’t think that will be an issue,” Ajiboye joked.
Social media platforms are identified to be hyper-focused on consumer development earlier than making income or earnings. And Backdrop, being one of many few social platforms constructed by Africans that stands an opportunity to catch on with a worldwide viewers, doesn’t plan to be an exception.
Should it achieve important traction, the founders have some concepts on how the platform will make income, citing promoting, bookings, reservations, tourism from non-public and public partnerships, and income from content material creators as some examples.
“There are many opportunities with discovery and content creation around travel,” Ajiboye stated. “What’s very important is that a community has to exist and our early users will shape what the platform is. So right now, growth is the priority and we think there are different ways money can be made.”