Our startup stories now bring us Peep, a tour app that engulfs secret stories of cities created by their own inhabitants. This startup is a member of Startup Chile’s 16th generation. In an effort to learn about the driving force behind this startup, its main outcomes to date and future plans, we talked to its founder, Katherine Vergara.
When was the startup founded?
I was visiting Chiloé and I wanted to see the gorgeous church of Tenaun, a small town 89 km away from Castro. In an effort to go to this temple, I went through an exhausting journey made up of walks, rain and lifts because of the lack of public transportation or buses in the area. A two-hour-and-half trip came to an end with a… church that was closed, no visitors allowed! A group of foreign tourists that were also interested in visiting that place, expressed their displeasure, but it was useless, so they left.
What should I do? Frustrated, I began to search in my cellphone for other places, but I found absolutely nothing. Finally, I decided to go down to the beach where I met a local fisherman that livened up my afternoon with stories about sorcerers, hidden caves, legends and local traditions. I was wonderful! Suddenly, a place that lacked of tourism attractions, and a trip I thought it was already lost, gained significant value. That’s when I realized that I could have returned home with a single story: I went to a place and it was closed. It was quite the opposite, I returned home with a handful of anecdotes and stories thanks to a gentle fisherman that decided to share them with me. PEEP was born out of that meeting and the interest in sharing stories with the world.”
PEEP’s origin goes back to the early days of 2015, with a first idea named “Zpot”, an app aimed at spreading local stories, supported by texts and pictures in an interactive map for smartphones.
The app was highly acclaimed by users, so Start-up Chile decided to invite “Zpot” to participate in Boost, a program in which the founding team was given the tools to develop the present concept of PEEP and it was included within Start-Up Chile’s 16th generation.
How does Peep work?
Peep is a tour app that engulfs secret stories of cities created by their own inhabitants. Everybody can upload a story related to mythology, oral tradition, or urban legends and everybody can listen to these stories. We also offer paid tours with stories chosen by us or created by local guides. These Premium tours cost as much as a cup of coffee (4.99 USD), so you can download the app from Appstore or visit our website.
Follow these steps to use Peep:
1. Download PEEP from Apple Store for free.
2. Register your account. Do it with your Facebook account, Twitter or your email.
3. Do you want to listen to the city’s stories? You can do it in two ways: go to the map and discover the stories around you or find them in the catalog created for each city.
4. Do you want to create stories of the city? You can do it by downloading the app and recording an audio in your cellphone. You have up to 2 minutes for your audio-story, which is revised within 24 hours. Once it is approved, your story is included in the map so it can be found and enjoyed by all peepers, who can assess it and rank you.
What tours are already available?
El otro Santiago: The classic tourism destinations in Santiago are now seen from another angle, by means of social stories and anecdotes of Chile told during a tour through the historic core.
Lleve de lo bueno: A tour around the popular Santiago, its stories, its people, and the way the city has changed through the years.
Santiago de miedo: With urban legends, murders and ghosts from the colony times of Santiago.
Logia: A tour through the pages of a bestseller in Chile, Logia, by Francisco Ortega.
What were your main outcomes in 2016?
The launch of our app for Iphone was a milestone. Having the opportunity to launch the Beta app to test our tours with real users from around the world has changed the way we used to do many things. We are checking every detail and periodically optimizing the experience, based on the messages sent by our users.
We also participated in Museos de Medianoche, an initiative by Dibam that allowed us to personally meet our users, and FIIS, the Latin American Inclusion Festival, where we had a workshop on stories.
What are your plans for 2017?
Our plans for the first half of the year target two fronts: signing agreements with local guides to have tours in other Chilean cities and strengthening the market before we scale up. On the other hand, we are looking for investors have our app for Android and invest in marketing, so we can reach out to more users, since our result have been organic so far.
How can ICTs contribute to the knowledge and preservation of a country’s cultural heritage?
I come from the academy world, so the defense of heritage is very important to me and I’ve worked on that field over the past 9 years. I see cultural heritage as a tool aimed at social, economic and local development. By introducing technologies to record stories, preserve pictures and store stories for the future, we are strengthening this development tool. Heritage goes through constant change and technological tools allow us to quickly adapt to those changes, so this ancestral knowledge is passed to future generations.
How is your relation with Startup Chile?
Start-Up Chile was an enterprising school, we walked in only with our idea and we developed our MVP for the Boost program. With those results we applied for SEED capital and developed our app. The opportunity to be in contact with entrepreneurs from around the world helped us learn, teach, make mistakes and do things right as a community.
How do you feel the startup ecosystem in Chile?
Chile has strengthened its position in the startup world thanks to the government’s investment to improve such fields as innovation and creation. Likewise, the private investors are beginning to have a good opinion of the startups world, as a true investment possibility. I think that we are on the right track, but there are some things to work out to help startups grow faster and safer. In terms of public funds, we could improve the bureaucracy aspect, since it can be exhausting when you are trying to move faster. As for the private world, investors have to be bolder, since investing in a startup entails high risk with high reward, but it is not safe. Those are not mutual funds. Waiting for a startup to have solid numbers to invest can reduce the percentage and reduce the final profit of the investor. Likewise, it has a negative impact on startups that are moved by great ideas and need that initial capital to grow.
5 tips to be shared with other startups?
Always listen to the user: beyond your passion for the project, it is always positive to listen to the people that actually use it. If you properly listen to them, you will improve your product and increase sales.
Find the best team: starting up is always a hard experience, but when you count on the support of the people that work with you, and you are all following the same idea, it is easier to get around obstacles. I’ve seen many startup fade away because of problems within the group of founders.
The problems can be worked out now or never: difficulties related to the product, problems in the team, lack of funds, whatever the problem is, leaving it for another moment will only bring about confusion in your team and difficulties for your startup. Problems must be tackled as soon as they are detected, instead of suffering the snowball effect.
You don’t need funds to test your idea: I always hear about people with great ideas waiting to have funds to test them. We presently have so many digital tools that everybody can have a Landing page and test their ideas. If you don’t have the strength to do that, why should an investor trust you?
Share your knowledge: When you give your first steps into the enterprising realm, you learn new things on a daily basis and there are always people that know less than you, so you can help them to improve the ecosystem. Talk to the people that were where you are now, since they certainly have pieces of advice and valuable tips.