In the technology world, fast is generally the way to go. Accelerators are all the rage. The need to “fail fast” has become a rallying cry for entrepreneurs. A favorite periodical of the tech set is called Fast Company.
One Kapaa tech entrepreneur, however, is building his startup on Hawaii time. Call it the anti-accelerator.
By day, Yacine Merzouk runs Zendy Labs, a three-person web design studio that helps create the online presence of Kauai businesses. By night, and in between projects, Merzouk has been building Tripidee, a web application that helps travelers organize the research for their trip.
Tripidee is a web application that helps travelers organize the research for their trip and plan a route.
Just a few years ago, I remember using Excel and Microsoft’s now defunct MapPoint to plan out upcoming trips on a printable map. Then, as Google Maps beefed up their My Maps features, I moved trip plans to the online world. But both methods involved tedious, time-intensive steps to manually add destinations and place pins.
With Tripidee, Merzouk hopes to streamline the process of planning your next trip by making it easy to add stops and attractions as you’re surfing the web. With Tripidee’s web browser plugin, you just click a button as you’re reading about, say, the best waterfall on Maui, and it’s automatically added to your trip plan.
“It’s definitely for people who like to plan and research,” Merzouk said. “It was actually my wife’s idea. She’s a compulsive researcher.”
Merzouk launched Tripidee in late November 2015, “just to see if the concept connected with people.” Within weeks, signups were coming in at about 10 per day and revenue plans were starting to take shape.
Tripidee goes far beyond just creating a list of potential stops on your next vacation, however.
“First, we make it easy for you to add attractions to your plan with just one click,” Merzouk said. “Then, Tripidee puts everything on a map. It even estimates activity times and adds transit times so you won’t miss or double-book anything.”
“We’re taking our time. We started by talking to some concierges, trying to figure out how people planned their trips. I’m adding new features to the app as I have time, usually on nights and weekends.” — Yacine Merzouk
The goal is to avoid booking a two-hour cruise at 10 A.M. in Waikiki and then a noon lunch in Haleiwa. Eventually, Merzouk says that they’ll add opening and closing times for businesses so you won’t arrive after something has closed.
“Eventually” is the operative word there. In the fast-paced world of tech startups, Merzouk chooses to take a different approach. He’s not building the trendy “minimum viable product” (or “MVP” to those who like to show off their buzzword acumen) to wow accelerators and potential investors. In fact, he’s not even thinking about accelerators and investors.
“We’re taking our time,” Merzouk said. “We started by talking to some concierges, trying to figure out how people planned their trips. I’m adding new features to the app as I have time, usually on nights and weekends.”
Looking at Tripidee, even successful entrepreneurs are impressed by his progress, no matter the speed.
“Yacine is trying to do some cool stuff,” said Ryan Esaki, co-founder of Kauai-based Ukulele Underground and the newly launched Lesson Underground, two online companies focused on music lessons.
“Cool” is obvious, especially once you take a look at Tripidee. Even cooler, arguably, is building a web business on Hawaii time, not the whirlwind of unreasonable expectations typical of the tech startup world.
At the risk of using another techy buzzword, it’s disruption, Hawaii-style.
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Jason Rushin has nearly 20 years of experience in software marketing, consulting, and engineering, and currently works as a marketing consultant for high tech clients, both locally and in Silicon Valley. Prior to relocating to Hawaii in 2010, he led marketing at several Silicon Valley software startups. Once in Hawaii, he launched and subsequently sold his own startup, and has been an active supporter of Hawaii’s small-but-growing startup ecosystem. Jason holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.