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TRAVELDUCK: building a marketplace for boutique adventure trips and activities

How we created a fully functional digital marketplace from scratch and helped the Client validate the business model for scaling up.

Travelduck is the biggest Polish marketplace that connects individual adventure trip organisers with their customers. They offer a wide range of activities, from trekking, biking and sailing in Poland to exploring Chernobyl or diving in Sri Lanka.

Challenge:


The goal of Travelduck was to consolidate the market of boutique trips offered by individuals on a very fragmented market. The end goal was to create an easy-to-use marketplace where tour organizers can showcase and sell their adventure trips.

The most important thing for the Travelduck team was to implement the part of the system responsible for presenting a variety of offers. They wanted to validate their business model as fast as possible through conversion tracking and conversion measurement. They wanted to know if there is traction on the market for this kind of service, as they were in the middle of fundraising and needed solid data proving the concept.

Another challenge was to bring enough vendors (trip organizers) to the system and build a supply side of the marketplace. In order to do that we had to implement the fully operational booking system in the MVP.

Travelduck’s team provided us with initial mockups, user-flow maps, and competition analysis, with Airbnb’s “experiences” offer being one of the most important benchmarks.

Process:

We kicked off our collaboration with a series of workshops. We took some time at this stage to fully understand the product and the Client’s business needs and goals. Thanks to getting into detail at this stage we simplified the planning process and reprioritized the MVP scope, selecting the most important features from the business point of view.

The outcome of this stage was a comprehensive roadmap of the project.

With the complete roadmap and clarity on functionalities of the product, we jumped into developing and MVP.

For our tech stack, we decided to go with Ruby on Rails in the back-end, React in front-end. After the workshops, we knew that the shape of the product will be changing dynamically during the development process and the proposed stack allows us to quickly iterate and introduce changes. Additionally, this is the same tech stack used by an industry leader, Airbnb, which was one of the Client’s most important benchmarks. We also choose the AWS for storage and Heroku for hosting.

On every stage of the process, we used Agile approach. The client was as engaged in the process as possible, he was a part of the team and was constantly providing feedback on our deliverables. Thanks to active communication we were able to improve the app constantly based on the feedback provided.

After MVP was published, Travelduck brought the first users to the platform in order to gather data and customer’s feedback. Based on the data collected, we were able to further improve the product in a series of development iterations.

The whole process was as follow:

Workshops, building a roadmap (2 weeks)
Building an MVP (3 months)
Collecting feedback from first clients, vendors and Travelduck back office team (2 months)
Further product development based on collected data.

The tight budget made us think twice about every planned feature. We've decided that the client-facing side of the platform has to be pitch-perfect. To build the back-office panel we've used open-source ActiveAdmin module, which helped us to spend less time on coding at the expense of crude UI.

DawidKarczewski_128x128

Dawid Karczewski

CTO at Ideamotive

Outcome:

The initial workshops at the beginning helped us a lot. Instead of focusing on back-office automatization (as was initially assumed by the Client), we put the most effort on the commerce side of the product from the very beginning. Thanks to taking this approach we saved a lot of time during the development process and, in consequence, significantly cut costs.

Thanks to the MVP, Travelduck has validated the business model: clients are purchasing offered services and the new vendors are joining the marketplace. Travelduck successfully brought two sides (supply and demand) to the marketplace and created a holistic service with the potential to scale up.

We have also introduced Scrum methodology to the Travelduck team which has been implemented in their other operations.

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