There is nothing worse than vacationing to an unknown destination with only an atlas, and the wife and kids to guide you. Unless you can’t afford to go on vacation in the first place – that’s worse. But the stress of potentially being bored during vacation can be, well, stressful.
Not knowing the locals shouldn’t hinder you from knowing what the locals know, which is the idea behind Gidsy, the social networking site that allows people to organize, host, or join community events.
“In the fall of 2011, we came up with the idea of going to the forests around Berlin to look for edible mushrooms that we could use for a mushroom risotto,” said Edial Dekker, CEO and co-founder of Gidsy. “Unfortunately, we had no idea which ones we could and could not eat. So, we went looking for someone who could show us which mushrooms could be used for cooking.”
They, being Dekker, his brother Floris, and friend Phillip Wassibauer, began Googling for someone to help them with their mushroom adventure, but, oddly enough, found it nearly impossible to find someone and schedule a “mushroom picking tour.”
“We thought, ‘Hey, there’s a huge opportunity here,’” Edial said.
The opportunity not only for a classic Berlin, mushroom picking tour, but an opportunity for a successful startup business.
“It’s often impossible to find something interesting to do when you are somewhere,” he said. “That’s when we thought about creating a marketplace for things to do where we could connect travelers with locals. We think this can be big, and we’re aiming to become the next Lonely Planet.”
The three founders launched the company in November of last year in New York City and Berlin, their hometown, and raised $1.2 million in seed funding. Gidsy has launched in nine other cities including London, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, but the goal is global. Edial would like for Gidsy to be in every city, but said it’s up to residents to “unlock” their city.
“That’s one of the most exciting things about Gidsy – a community of passionate people that make use of it,” he said. “We cannot wait to launch in other cities and be everywhere in the world eventually.”
The idea even caught the eye of actor and startup enthusiast, Ashton Kutcher, who is an investor in the company.
“It’s awesome to have Ashton on board,” Edial said. “He’s a great guy, and loves traveling and exploring – exactly what Gidsy is about. It is something we never expected when we were starting with Gidsy. Ashton has invested in great companies that we use daily here at Gidsy, so we’re excited to be part of that small startup family.”
Edial said the company still has a lot of work to do before it gets to where they want to be, but that the growth and consumer feedback has been better than expected. He said the company is planning to release an upgrade to the site they’re calling the Columbus release, which is a compilation of everything the company has learned since its launch.
“We’re really excited about this, because we’ve been working on it for a long time,” he said. “We really want to change the way people explore. We want to make it really easy for people to find things to do wherever they are in the world.”
Follow Dustin Bass on Twitter at @dbass_cmn