Travel is fun and glamorous and all, but we all know what packing your rucksack and heading for the Amazon is really about: Making your friends and family a deep shade of jealous green. Polarsteps just raised a seed round to continue developing its automated travel blogging app, to make the jealousy-machine run just that tiny bit smoother.
The Amsterdam-based company raised a modest €500,000 ($563k) in seed funding from Silver Point Ventures and TMG last week. The funds will be used to bring its iOS app (currently in public beta) to feature-completion, and to launch an Android version.
The concept is simple: Schedule the times you’re traveling and your app does the rest. It checks your location from time to time, and publishes its findings to a webpage so your friends and family can follow along with your globetrotting. As you add photographs and locations, your travel log populates itself. The prototype for the app was tested on an epic motorcycle road trip from Amsterdam to Cape Town. The resulting travel log is impressive, and is the source of a severe case of itchy feet in your correspondent.
Polarsteps is optimized for travel, which means that you don’t need data roaming or cell coverage to let the app do its thing: GPS works independently of mobile reception and the app synchronizes its data whenever you hit a pocket of cell reception — or when you log in to the Wi-Fi at the hotel at the end of a long, dusty day of travel.
“The app is currently in public beta, and everyone can use it,” says Koen Droste, the company’s co-founder. He clarifies that the Beta label reflects that the app currently has a limited feature-set and that it signals that Polarsteps is under active development.
The implementation of Polarsteps is very well done, but the idea itself is not particularly original: there have been a slew of companies and solutions in this space over the years. In particular, the Polarsteps solution has more than a few things in common with esplorio.
The idea for Polarsteps came to Niek Bokkers, one of the company’s founders, when he set out to sea on a sailing peregrination back in 2013. To keep his family in the loop on his location and likelihood of still being alive, he created an app that automatically updated his loved ones on his location. His friends and family’s reaction convinced him that perhaps there would be a wider audience — and the idea for an iOS-based version was born.
In addition to locations and photos, Polarsteps tracks a ton of other data, including distance traveled, countries visited and more.
“The investment round this month means we’re now going full steam ahead on an Android version. We hope to launch it this summer”, says Droste.
The app is free to download and available now on iOS.