It often seems that no matter how excited you are for a trip, some aspects of travelling will always be stressful. People put a lot of pressure on themselves when they travel, whether it be to manage to do it all on a shoestring budget or to make new friends or to hit every single tourist attraction or to avoid all the tourist attractions and have a ‘real’ experience – everyone is looking to have the trip of a lifetime, and it can be stressful.
There are a variety of problems to be solved when it comes to travel and the travel app market is booming as a result. A new player on the local scene is Wunderwalk, a Queensland-based startup looking to help travellers plan days out in different cities.
Founded by Katrina McArthur, the app works by having users choose a few interests and then suggesting activities for them to do based on those interests, and where to do them. Wunderwalk also shows them how to walk from one to the other. Essentially, it’s a personalised tour in your pocket.
McArthur says the idea came to her when she was in Barcelona with a friend.
“I knew the city well but wanted to take a friend for a classic Barcelona night out, with good tapas, a high-quality flamenco show, and a champagne bar, because Barcelona is famous for champagne bars. It wasn’t quite a pub crawl, but a night out with a series of activities, and I was really surprised, given that it was a classic type of offering, that we couldn’t find any brochures or sites telling us where to go,” she explains.
“I spent an hour or two on the computer in my hotel room and thought, the data is available, so it’s crazy that I have to waste time when Barcelona is right on my doorstep.”
McArthur has worked in a variety of areas like project management, administration, research, and communications across the public and private sectors. She started Wunderwalk after realising she was no longer interested in merely climbing the corporate career ladder and wanted more creativity in her daily role.
Though she didn’t have a tech background, McArthur threw herself into the startup. A seasoned traveller herself, she believes mobile is the future of travel.
“I had studied science, which is a lot of process and methodology, so moving across to IT there was some familiarity there. I saw it as another process to manage,” she says.
“With the revolution of more people getting mobile phones and travelling with mobile phones, software is the future for travel, because no one wants to carry around a thick travel guide.”
Since launching as Amble in 2013, Wunderwalk now boasts over 7000 travellers using the app, with the platform supporting almost 3000 cities in 155 countries.
McArthur has also brought on a part time co-founder in David Baker and is in discussion to bring travel partners on board to monetise the app.
The travel app market is a crowded one, with countless apps popping up to help travellers find new things to do in different cities and new friends to do them with, but Wunderwalk could push ahead thanks to the way it turns the walking from one activity to the other into part of the experience itself. This is a great feature, both because public transport can be hard to navigate in any new city, let alone one where you don’t speak the language, and because you can see more of a city on foot than underground on the subway. It’s perfect for young travellers on a budget.
Last week, Wunderwalk was named as one of the six startups accepted into the NRMA’s Jumpstart accelerator program. McArthur says she is excited about the opportunity the program will give her to learn and to grow the platform.
“Being based at Fishburners, every time I make a coffee there’s someone doing something really exciting, and that’s why you get out of bed.”
Image credit: Mark Grimwade of BNE