With social travel startups popping up every other day, and a bevy of travel resources already firmly planted in a crowded space, what is it about mygola that’s getting McClure and others excited? For starters, the service’s value proposition starts with the fact that it’s built for users who already have specific trip-planning questions in mind. Essentially, it’s a pay-as-you go travel concierge, so you bring your proposed trip to mygola, with specific targeted questions in mind, and the service handles all the logistics (research and bookings) for you.
Mygola is going for the 90 percent tech, 10 percent human curation approach, as the startup is in the process of bringing on thousands of travel enthusiasts to make them travel researchers. The startup combines human curation and customer service with a technology platform that aggregates the “entire travel web”, auto-categorizing that wealth of information into deals, events, hotels, sublets, and tips from locals through Foursquare and other social platforms.
The paid “mygola Guides” currently numbers in the hundreds, according to Founder and ex-Googler Anshuman Bapna, who are distributed globally and are increasing at a rate of 80 a week. These guides are there help users plan their trips based on the crowdsourced data aggregated from travel sites all over the Web.
The service allows users to ask their first question for free, and if you like the answer that mygola gives you, users can tip accordingly. Users will then pay $30 to ask additional questions or have their entire trip planned for them, or they can pay $100 for a year long subscription.
Interested in trying out the service? Mygola is providing the first 100 TechCrunch readers with a 50 percent discount for the $30 and $100 plans, using the code “TCLOVE”.
Bapna and team have been referring to their model as the “Robocop for travel”, which gives you a sense of the somewhat quirky approach they’re taking. Relying on real human beings to help you plan your trip, leveraging the best of travel information on the Web, is certainly a refreshing alternative to the many user-generated and crowdsourced travel sites out there, but the startup has an enormous amount of competition, and has a long way to go before it can convince users that paying $30 for their recommendations and bookings is easier and more valuable than doing it themselves.
The startup plans to use its new capital to continue hiring its “mygola Guides” and build out its current product. For more, check out the startup at home here.