On Developing A Customer-Friendly App For Travelers

Published: April 19th, 2020
Thor Sigurdsson
Founder, Expluria
from Reykjavik, Iceland
started July 2019
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I’m a decade-long tourism veteran & serial entrepreneur who’s founded and run many companies, including Different Iceland, Iceland Connect, Kjarni (which was acquired by TVG-Zimsen), and Netafrit, an online backup solution (acquired by Siminn, leading internet provider in Iceland). 15 years of IT experience. Former board member of the tourism organization in Hafnarfjörður, Iceland.

Our flagship product is Expluria Pro and Expluria Traveller, a B2B and B2C solution real-time information to travelers, helping them find their bus, it sends and receives notifications to Travellers, changes tours, and perform other actions solved today by significant manual work and inefficient communication channels. We are improving the post-booking service. Expluria is a real-time and secure way of communication between tour operators and customers, which is extremely important if a traveler is in the new country or city. Our customer-friendly design will help not to lose a tour bus, define the route via the online map, and even book the needed trip.

We are still in testing and Beta program so there is no sale today, but soon we will start selling the product to the B2B market.


What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

I worked in the IT area for more than 15 years and understood the processes that can be made to implement a particular solution and being a tour Operator was the reason why did start Expluria.

Start to plan your idea, and think it big, and don't let anyone tell you this is a bad idea, it is for you to find out.

Being a former Tour Operator and talking to tourists about the problem that they are phasing, did confirm the problem that I´m solving with Expluria, all of the travelers that I did interview did have the same story to tell, lack of real-time information.

Developing a solution like this is expensive, and I knew that I did need external financial help, to succeed with this. Before I got the first investors to the project, I self-fund it by using money from driving tourists and put the money in the project. I did not regret it at all. It did show the investors how much effort and passion I have on the project.

Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?

Before making the product, I took a few months to chose the name of the application, studied competitors and their possibilities, determined potential clients and investors, and I was sure in software developers as well.

If you have an idea, you should not be scared of sharing it as no one knows it better than you.

Picture of the product and the flow of it.


How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

It will take a few years to be profitable, but then we will be a global company all over the world, by connecting to the main marketplace providers in tourism.
It is a challenge and you need to make sure that you always stay on top things and review your competitors and see what they are doing. Never lose focus on that!

To start with we will use direct marketing, and email + events, and connect out a network of Tour Operators here in Iceland

We are on full speed to getting from Beta to Live now in April 2020, really exciting times ahead and a lot of work that we need to cover to succeed properly.

By connecting to other Marketplace vendors like Bokun is, do expand our region outside of Iceland, which is super important for our project to do so.

Short term is to cover Iceland, and the long term is to cover Europe, and that our solution will not only be an app for real-time notifications, it will contain also other related information when you are traveling.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

The good decision that I made was to tell people about my idea, I got my first investor by doing that. I have done a few mistakes, and you always learn from them, one is to hire the right person through these freelance portals out there.

You really need to do some background checking before you get the right person. And not be afraid of asking for help, there are many people out there that can help you.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

I use e.g. HubSpot, Teams, Asana, Fiverr and Upwork and other relate tools, most of them are cloud-based.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

There are no special links, I though read about startups, entrepreneurship, and business most of it is online and blogs articles. My mind is thinking too much so I have peace of reading the long-term books!

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Start to plan your idea, and think it big, and don't let anyone tell you this is a bad idea, it is for you to find out. I see that people are not willing to share their idea, you should share your idea. No one does know it better than you.

As you think of your idea 24/7/365, it is understandable, that you get tired of it and you want to think of something else. That is fine, but never lose focus on it and faith, if you do, your investors will also. And don't let anyone tell you that your idea is bad, you need to find out your self, and try as much as you can to make your dream come true.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you want to ask me a question, drop me a line on [email protected] or via linkedin and Facebook.