VIRTUAL tours offered by live travel streamer Heygo are to remain free to join, founders have pledged as the company announces a $20 million raft of investors.
The Brit start-up founded by university pals John Tertan and Liam Garrison during lockdown has already notched up in excess of two million bookings under its own steam.
But the arrival of investors from tech operations including Snap, Postmates, GitHub and Checkout, means that the streamer can continue to develop its online offering.
In an official reveal, Tertan said: “We’re pleased to announce an exciting milestone for our company with a $20 million Series A funding round led by Northzone with the participation of Lightspeed Venture Partners, Point 9 Capital, TQ Ventures, Ascension, the Fund and a series of high profile angels.
“They include Guillaume Pousaz, founder of Checkout, Lawrence Leuschner, founder of Tier, Bastian Lehmann, founder of Postmates, Scott Chacon founder of GitHub (through SCNE Ventures), Ian Hogarth founder of Songkick, Matt Robinson founder of GoCardless and Nested, Richard Mabey founder of Juro, and others.”
Heygo currently works with more than 200 guides in over 90 countries, delivering live interactive tours complete with live chat and the ability to take souvenir snapshot ‘postcard’ pictures.
Recent tours have included hot air ballooning over ancient Egyptian tombs in Luxor, skiing in Canadian resort Whistler Blackcomb, and visiting one of the world’s strangest guest houses in Vietnam.
Addressing users of the platform at virtual ‘town hall’ sessions today, Tertan said that the platform will continue to run tours on a free-to-join basis, with voluntary tips encouraged.
Sixty percent of tips generated during and after each trip goes to the guide, and the remaining 40 percent goes to Heygo, where Tertan pledges it will continue to be invested in the business.
“We are being asked if the platform will still be free to join, if we are going to start including ads, and if there will be any adjustments in the ways the guides make money,” he said.
“And the short answer is that nothing is changing as a result of the funding. I’m a big believer in the model that we have chosen, and to keep exploring that.
“It’s so important that the portion of the tips Heygo does receive we invest in helping keep tours free and to ensure that we are able to innovate and strengthen the experience.
“The philosophy with which we approach any type of prioritisation is ‘How can we provide the tools and the experience that will let guides provide better experiences to travellers on the platform?’.
“That’s the lens though which we look at it. Over the calendar year there are things we may be rolling out that help lead to that and help create more content. That’s what we’re aiming at.”
Immediate enhancements will include the addition of the ability for guides to be able to zoom in for close-ups, something users of the platform have been clamouring for.
There is also a drive to recruit members of the Heygo community, which has more than 8,800 members on its Heygo Voyagers Facebook group, as new guides, especially in new destinations or for special interest tours.
Soon to be announced, too, are enhancements to the ‘postcard’ facility spurred by a huge increase in the use of the screenshot function which has tripled in 12 months.
Initiatives to further build the community side of the platform are also being planned, with further announcements expected in the coming weeks.
For latest tour announcements head to heygo.com.