In summer from 2019, Timilehin Ajiboye became intrigued with the idea of creating a travel app after conversations with a circle of friends.
A friend contacted Ajiboye to ask if he knew of a platform where she could find news, aesthetically nice places to dine, visit and take photos. And then, on a trip to Miami, he and his friends actively looked for nice places to eat – and take pictures.
No doubt: these needs are quite futile. But Backdrop is no different from other global social media platforms that allow users to snap fleeting photos, tailor their lifestyle to endangered stories, or discover millions of personalized short videos..
And while social media, more and more exponentially over the past decade, has changed the way we communicate and connect, it has also changed the way we travel.
More than 36% of social media users use platforms for travel ideas, according to Statista; over 60% of these people share photos while traveling.
Instagram controls most of that traffic, but Ajiboye believes the process of finding travel information on the platform has become ridiculously long. He argues that massive platforms like Instagram that venture into any content have created a need for niche platforms..
“Instagram is like an operating system for images. Everything happens on Instagram: travel, beauty, e-commerce. Same with Pinterest, ”he told TechCrunch in an interview. “More and more, you will find that for some people they use these platforms to travel and no experience has been created for travel that takes into account 2021 i.e. people like to take pictures in front of places who look great and share with their friends. “
Ajiboye came up with the name Backdrop and contacted two friends, Damilola Odufuwa and Odunayo Eweniyi, to build the platform and turn it into a business.
Social networks and travel
There is currently no platform of choice to find attractive places just for fun. Founders say Backdrop is principally built for this, as well as the discovery of the journey.
For example, travelers on vacation in Dubai and looking for trendy places tend to do three things: ask friends and acquaintances, run a Google search, or type a hashtag on Instagram.
“If you run a Google search or use Instagram, everything shows up, including results irrelevant to your search,” Odufuwa said. “If you’re looking for pink restaurants in Dubai, you might not be able to get them on Instagram, and Backdrop is changing all this.”
With Backdrop, users can discover and share beautiful places to take photos according to their interests and criteria. The founders believe that as post-pandemic travel becomes increasingly complex, Backdrop can serve as a travel companion for millennials and Generation Z, especially those obsessed traveling to pretty places.
Critical information about each backdrop includes opening and closing times, address (linked to Google Maps), cost and entrance fees (if applicable), Wi-Fi availability, pet policy, outdoor seating, wheelchair access and dress code..
TechCrunch spoke to a few beta backdrop users. Depending on their interests, two camps emerged. Some like its Collection feature, which allows them to save funds, combining the universes of Google Maps and Pinterest. Others prefer the Explore feature, seeing it as a combination of Google Maps and Instagram.
With hashtags, users can find specific places, and the “Backdrop Near Me” feature allows them to discover other places they can visit nearby. their current backdrop location.
The company has a photographic research team that finds these places in 26 cities around the world. They also take photos and enter the necessary information into each backdrop.
Although Backdrop does not comment on the number of users in beta, the founders claim that its research team has collected thousands of photos of 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 average, there are 100 to 300 photos in each city on the platform.
Using a dedicated team to upload images is not scalable in the long run and Backdrop knows that. Therefore, the company allows users to upload funds themselves and enter the necessary information on each. Other users are reviewing the messages before registering on the platform, whether by positive or negative votes. They can also rate others and earn redeemable points to help build community.
“This is how we try to move from an obligation to personally organize backdrops and let the community decide what kind of backdrops go to the platform, ”Ajiboye said.
“Although there are cases where necessarily the best photo or the best content is at the top of the search, there is a kind of democracy involved in crowdsourcing votes on the content or, in our case, the backdrops. On our side, we try to detect if the information is correct, too, automatically.. “
Backdrop plans to add 20 more cities this year and got a six-figure family and friend ride to scale the product up. But with the scale comes more responsibility, a phrase the three founders have grown used to over the years.
The trio met over six years ago in a Zikoko, an Africa-focused youth publication, and their careers in tech and digital media diversified from there.
Odufuwa, who acts as CEO of Backdrop, heads up Binance’s public relations in Africa. She is also a co-founder of the Feminist Coalition, a Nigerian women’s rights and equality group, alongside Eweniyi, who is the COO of Backdrop..
Eweniyi is also the COO of PiggyVest, one of the most popular fintech platforms in Nigeria.
CTO Ajiboye is the executive and technical manager of the Sendcash crypto money transfer product and the cryptocurrency platform supported by YC Buycoins.
Building a global product
Although the founders managed several projects, they mainly summer Focused on Nigeria or Africa. But Backdrop is quite different; the target market is global. So I couldn’t help but ask the founders: did they feel sufficiently focused or capable of running the business?
Odufuwa responded by saying that managing a global product is no different. Because every founder ran various follow each other quickly, they will have no problem adding Backdrop to the mix.
“I think we [millennials and GenZs] are only really good at juggling. And while it can come with burnout and burnout, you learn to juggle and I think it is life in general. But I know we are 100% committed.
Ajiboye added that while the founders are great teammates and leaders, they will need to build a global team to support the business for the long term..
“People have been doing much more complex things at the same time, so I do not think so it will be a problem, ”Ajiboye joked.
Social media platforms are known be hyper-focused on growing users before generating revenue or profit. And Backdrop, being one of the few social platforms built by Africans that has a chance to woo a global audience, does not intend to be an exception..
If it gains traction, the founders have some ideas on how the platform will generate income, citing advertising, bookings, reservations, tourism from private and public partnerships and income from content creators, for example.
“There are many opportunities for discovery and content creation around travel,” Ajiboye said. “What’s very important is that a community has to exist and our early adopters will shape what the platform is. So right now growth is the priority and we think there are different ways that money can be done. “