I’m a startup newbie who has no previous startup experience and need advice

I’m a 19 year old college student who loves to travel. I’ve traveled alone to many cities such as Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore. Besides the freedom of a solo traveler, I have faced numerous problems such as language barriers, complex transportation system, high cost of living and loneliness. As a solo traveler, I have to figure out everything by myself. From booking a hotel, learning the complicated train system in Tokyo, finding a nice tour to go on, etc.

Those challenges made me spend a ton of time and money and were the reason I came up with the idea of a website that allows travelers to design their own trip by finding information, reviews about restaurants, attractions, tours at their desired destination … to add to their trip as well making reservation of their favorite restaurants, booking their desired event ticket directly from the website, finding travel partners to share room, cruise trip or taxi with them.

I’m not a web developer and I don’t have any coding skill. so I must use an outsourced freelancer to help me build an MVP. I posted a job on Upwork, interviewed few potential candidates and already found one who I wanted to hire. However, the developer told me that the MVP for this idea would cost around $2-$3000 dollars. I have no previous startup experience and the price of this MVP is too much for me. I love this idea so much but I’m starting to feel scared and stressed out. I cannot avoid it. I don’t know what to do now and feel upset. I hope someone has experience with startups can give me some advice. Thanks for listening to my problem.

  • Have you done research on competitors? This space is pretty crowded and nobody seems to be doing well. Read up on Vayable’s troubles.

  • Hey. I am an active developer for startups and have worked on around 20 projects.

    2-3k is incredibly low. I would be shocked if you could get a functional site that would do all you mentioned for 30k.

    I agree with above comment though. This space is crowded and I would recommend shelving it or using it as a project to teach yourself how to build thses things.

  • Hi.

    i have the same idea but i have to agree its very crowded out there.

    Although i am still working on it I use it as a base to learn and I have done so without paying too much money. (that’s how most fall in the trap)

    Through my experience on the project i learned a few things.

    Never bet the farm. Especially on your first project. (although this didn’t happen since i was careful, others weren’t so lucky).

    Do an in depth analysis of the market and competitors because you will find many companies have failed for not having a competitive advantage.

    Make a professional website on your own using various platforms like Weebly or word press to cut costs down and to see if people are interested. No coding skills required. Only the ability to learn.

    Get connected.

    Hope this helps.

  • Don’t waste your money. First, your description of the problem is too general and that’s not how startups are build. Second, 3000$ is poo poo.

    I have traveled 6 countries in few months and didn’t have problems with transportation, location, etc… What I wish I had was the ability to plan a trip on Google maps instead of just one distination, because WiFi was not available everywhere and as a foreigner, I couldn’t buy a sim card in every country I visit. Try to define a specific problem and focus on solving it.

  • Agree with points above.

    $2-$3k is too low. Whatever you’re quoted now its likely going to end up 3 to 5 times more, at very minimum, because what you think the mvp will work & look like in your head is not what a developer will deliver unless you have it fully designed which is an additional $2k to $10k at very minimum

    Lonelyplanet guides offers this info.

    Best thing you could do with the knowledge you have recently gained is create a simple blog and include personal reviews & advice about the places you went & how you got there & what you learned. Thats more valuable than searches and would cost little or nothing. Add more blog entries for each new place experienced with tips. If it gets high traffic then consider redesigning into a travel site.

    Remember methods to sightseeing in foreign countries changes often & unless you have an insider with updated information you could be building a site with old information.

    Truth is, if you found your trip experience to be stressful having to figure everything out on your own and felt lonely, well building a startup is that feeling multiplied by a million and takes all your energy & money.

    So if $3k is stressing you out now, you are not ready to build a full site with backend searches, bandwidth, development & design, etc.

  • We are working on a related idea for the Chinese market. I was warned that the MVP will cost 100k and take a year, my partners said it will be much faster. Unfortunately the warnings were correct.

    Also, the market is truly crowded, and “new”, same ideas are mushrooming every day. You need 1) a clear competitive advantage, 2) better than minimum viable for the first MVP, 3) fast pace of development, which means either a dedicated team of developers as your partners, or a lot of money. How about trying to partner up with others doing the same thing? One in hundred might break through, best to gather an excellent team.

    Good luck!

  • So many people are using google maps, so you might be better crafting an idea around recommended things to know and do based on route chosen and known preferences. And to gather your info, you’ll need a base of users, and then ask them (like Amazon does) for specific recommendations (e.g. Can you recommend the vegetarian restaurant along the way from this airport to this tour that you stopped at?)

    Regarding the cost of your MVP, contrary to all the advice above, you are right about the cost being too high. If you are getting into a startup state of mind, you NEED to learn to do your MVP for less than $500. As you will surely have many other ideas in life, and you first need to fail fast before you can succeed.

    My MVP’s are down to $200, and if they get past that stage my wife and I will put $5k aside to bring it to market.

    Your MVP needs to answer 3 questions:

    1. Can you get your core user-journey (experience journey) fully described and drawn as a flow on paper, and it still make sense? (There are free tools for all of that and you can even produce your own free animated explainer video that completly look like a running app).

    2. Can you demonstrate how you will acquire users, and drive them to your invite-to-try your free version coming soon (launchrock.com like)?

    3. Can you prove why you could not do your core value somewhere else.

    Your MVP won’t make you any money! It is for you, not your potential customers, so you can prove that the experience actually makes sense for more people than just you and your polite friends.

    The most important goal of an MVP is to learn, listen, and grow, personally.

    So good quotes about MVPs and startups:

    1. If you are not embarrassed with your first version that you put in front of users, you waited to long.

    2. People that say it can’t be done should get out of the way of those trying.

    3. Done is infinitely more valuable than perfect.

    4. Complex well-working systems invariably are built on small well-working systems. Likewise, and invariably, failure is inevitable, otherwise.

    5. No naysayer has ever been right, regardless of the result.

  • The OP wrote: ”

    Those challenges made me spend a ton of time and money and were the reason I came up with the idea.

    Then other people tell him the space is over saturated.

    Question is: Why didn’t he use one of the over saturated products ?

    Because this is not how humans want to travel. People are control freaks.

    they can take control of their own trip.Just like the OP did. He had headaches doing it. Doesn’t mean a piece of software is going to make it any easier.

    It’s just the way life is.

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