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Startup Watch: Firef.ly

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This week we are thrilled to be joined by London based travel startup Firef.ly. Founded by Chad Cribbins, Firef.ly is a mobile app providing comprehensive trip planning and travel guides paired with personal travel journals and mementoes, so you will never forget any trip.


First can you tell us a bit about your job? What does your company do?

Firef.ly is your personal travel memoir. Our mission is to illuminate your journeys. Through understanding you and your needs we are able to create perfect travel recommendations that we have personally matched to you and your searches. With our built- in guides we are able to curate cities just for you, listing the best places to eat, drink and even stay, removing endless hours scouring the web. The journal based element of the app allows you to capture both passively and actively all the significant moments of your trip, capturing a trail of everywhere you have been, which you can later share with friends and family. And even after your trip has finished you can create lasting mementos to keep.


What brought you to this area?

I would describe myself as a bit of a vagabond, I’ve travelled to 69 countries and counting. Since college travel has been a huge part of my life, and myself and the team are big believers that travel changes people. We aim to find ways to enable people to travel, because we believe this has a knock-on effect on individuals gaining greater appreciation and understanding of the wider ecosystem of the world we live in.


What time does your day start, and what does your typical work day schedule look like?

I would usually say 10 till whenever. For myself, the morning is for spending time with my kids before they head off to school and then I tend to stay late in the evening to tie everything up. But for the rest of the team it’s usually 10 – 6. There is some exception as the whole team is spread across the globe on different time zones, but we do try to have quarterly get together’s to throw ideas around and just have some fun.


What kind of projects are you currently working on?

At the moment all of our focus is on the app, so it’s all hands on deck. It’s a free app so much of our attention is how to get early adopters on board and how to target them and in turn widen the market.


How do you see technology impacting the travel industry?

Tech blows it all to pieces, literally, it’s a little overwhelming. The change is so rapid and technology is just changing all the time so we are constantly trying to remain as adaptable and flexible as possible. The biggest thing for us is being able to use contextual data in order to deliver the most relevant travel recommendations to a user. For example, if we know that you like Peruvian food and it’s lunchtime in Shoreditch, we’ll ping you to check out Andina (a fantastic Peruvian joint by the way!). If it happens to be raining while you’re on holiday in London, we might suggest you head to the Tate Modern instead of suggesting Hyde Park. Technology helps us get smarter and hence, more useful for travellers. Whilst we use iOS as our main platform, the way technology is evolving means that we have seen the development of mainstream wearable’s which we’re sure are going to feature heavily in travel technology.  


What do you consider the greatest achievement in your work to date?

I think it’s still to come, but putting together the team we’ve got is something I’m really proud of. Taking that one little idea born from my years of travelling and getting to where we are now is a great feeling.  


What is the one app you could not live without?

This may sound bizarre, but I am actually starting to find that I am missing the balance, so I have made a concerted effort to live without some apps, there are simply just too many. Despite this, I think we are slowly moving into a place where technology is becoming a bit more unseen, for example the haptic response on the Apple watch and even our own app, which eliminates the need for endless research, instead giving you gentle nudges towards suggestions built on your personal preferences.


What’s the best thing about working at firefly?

Everyday we get to wake up and work on something we care about. The team and I are incredibly passionate and excited to get up and start working on our ideas and how to develop them.


Where is the after work hangout?

Slack. The team is based across the globe, across all different time zones, but being a startup means that the work/personal lines are blurred, so we are always in communication and connected somehow.


Who’s your professional role model?

My eldest brother – he’s incredibly ethically minded and always trying to do the right thing.


What makes London a good city for startups?

London is a great city for startups, but particularly for travel based startups like ours. The city is an amalgamation of every race, colour and creed, and it’s an amazing jump point to explore the rest of the world.

One of the earliest pieces of advice I got was to root down where your network is and build from there, knowing and utilising your network is invaluable, especially when first starting out.


What are the top 3 qualities you look for in an employee?





What is the one piece of advice you would give an entrepreneur starting out?

Surround yourself with people you genuinely trust. Startups can often be an over romanticised endeavour, but it’s a long and tough journey and it’s about getting the right people around you from the start, who like you are in it for the long run.
Download Firef.ly via: http://app.firef.ly


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