Social Companies Don't Work If You Don't Have Any Users


Photo: Christopher Michel

Social travel is a popular trend. The only problem with “social” companies is that you have to build enough of a user base that the social aspects come alive, Gogobot founder Travis Katz said, speaking from experience.Gogobot is a social travel site that lets you see where your friends have traveled. It’s grown monthly users about 6x in the last six months.

“The typical experience in most social startups is that you sign in, you post a question, and it’s just crickets. You don’t hear anything because nobody is there. You’ve got to do it quickly or everybody loses interest,” he said.

Social is harder than it looks, he said. “You need to understand user psychology. Users want to know what is in it for them. Why would they want to tell people to join it and tell their friends about it?” Katz said.

Gogobot’s edge was giving a more credible alternative to sites such as Tripadvisor, which are overrun with fraud, Katz said. “All these hotels and restaurants realised that other people were creating an account under a fake name. They can hire companies to write five star reviews for them. It has become an arms race for 5 star reviews. If they know, all my competitors are writing five star reviews, so it leaves them at a tough spot.”

Gogobot uses Facebook’s authentication, so you know who recommendations are coming from, he said.

“We are quietly building a big business. I did this before at MySpace. I was an early executive there. I built out the international business from zero to north of 70 million users. We launched in 30 different countries. I understand what it takes to be social,” he said.

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