We are back

We are back – with a major development update!

Okay, so we’ve been really quiet on the blog front for the last half year. This is because we’ve been super busy delivering our commercial platform!

In late August we “graduated” from our prototype and launched our commercial platform – super exciting(!!!) but also super stressful and busy for the team.

Our new user interface is the result of two years of accumulated learnings including feedbacks and suggestions from many of you. So, I want to take this moment to thank all of our early adopters (you know who you are!).

We have rebuilt our entire platform from the grounds-up with new advanced functions including color-categorising and pro-quality PDF.

Now, we had to find a way to eventually make pebblar financially self-sustaining. There are two general approaches to this being either to (1) provide the platform for free to users but charge third parties to access our users and advertise on our platform; or (2) charge our users a small fee directly with no third parties involved. Given our belief that data security is really important in today’s world and that our users should feel that their data is safe when creating their itineraries, we naturally defaulted to option (2).

After many conversations with our power users, we decided on a super simple pricing structure to address different use-cases:

US$10 per itinerary (suitable for casual travelers who like to plan ahead in detail)

US$9.95 per month for unlimited number of itineraries (suitable for frequent travelers or business purpose users)

The launch of our commercial platform marks the beginning of our journey. We still have much to learn from our users and many new features to deliver. So, bear with us and stay tuned! 😊

Challenges and opportunities

November was the second month of our pebblar journey and things are moving ahead faster than we had expected! So many moving pieces!

Firstly, getting the boring stuff out of the way. After a painful 10 week long approval process, we finally got our HSBC business banking account!. We could not believe what an arduous process this seemingly simple task was – but I guess we weren’t the only ones.

The really exciting development last month was the realisation that pebblar may be able to solve some real life pain points for businesses too. As some of you may know, I personally email each and every new pebblar user. It turns out one of our users (from a very well known fashion house) was trying to use pebblar to organise work trips.

After some very insightful conversations, we realised there was an opportunity to bring pebblar into businesses. So, working in collaboration with her and her team, we have started to develop an enterprise version of pebblar – stay tuned for some exciting announcement in the coming weeks!

We’re really excited to work directly with a business end-user to create a product that potentially fulfils a real business need. While this is super exciting, it also brings with it quite a few new challenges, with the main one being having sufficient technical resources to keep up with so many product development streams. To address this, we have ramped up our recruiting initiatives and we hope to welcome new members into the pebblar family soon (and please contact us if you know of any good developers passionate in travel).

Bring it on and until next time,

Nan

Our first month

As we put the finishing touches on our very first monthly investor update, it reminded me: we just survived our first month.

Something that every startup team can relate to: the to-do list never gets shorter, a lot of them are things you would have never done before, and the only way to work through it all is by being organised and pace ourselves. So for our first month, our focus has been on the following three key buckets (not in any particular order):

  • The boring (but unfortunately important) things like finalising our legal documents, applying for a business bank account (which we have discovered is now a very long and painful process in Hong Kong), and setting up an accounting system;
  • The more fun stuff like working with our new UX/UI designer to design a brand new website landing page that better reflects the spirit of pebblar going forward – simplicity and utility; and
  • The super exciting work of finalising the design for our very first full app (pebblar 1.0) and getting the development process started! We definitely got our work cut out for us as we work towards a pre-Christmas release deadline.

Unmistakably, our daily lives are increasingly centred around the mobile and it is only logical that we plan our trips on our mobile while sitting on a bus or sitting on the couch watching TV.

Whilst there are plenty of “trip planning tools” out there, almost all of them focus on suggested contents and inspirations (as opposed to simplifying the trip planning process). In addition, almost all of the mobile trip planning apps out there are direct 1-1 conversions of their respective web platform.

Pebblar 1.0 will seeks to streamline and simplify the DIY trip planning process rather than providing inspirations and recommendations.

Pebblar 1.0 will not be a simple conversion of our desktop tool but rather a mobile app designed from the grounds-up for mobile trip planning.

In designing pebblar 1.0, we are following two guiding principles with the uttermost discipline:

SLC not MVP.

There have been many articles and discussions on MVP (Minimum Viable Product) vs SLC (Simple Loveable Complete). As a team, we didn’t wanted pebblar 1.0 to be a MVP with lots of half-baked, incomplete features, we wanted to deliver a SLC – a purposefully simple, genuinely useful and function-wise complete product that delivers true utility.

To put it simply, we rather give people the best skateboard there is rather than a crappy car that falls apart.

Source: Hackernoon (https://hackernoon.com/mindset-change-mvp-vs-slc-d087a7f87be3)

Utility. Utility. Utility. (pebblar translation: Simple, Practical, Useful.)

Our core focus is on delivering real utility to our users. So, with every function we include or not include, we always ask ourselves (and each other): is this something useful to a DIY trip planner on the go? How is that need being fulfilled right now?

We want pebblar 1.0 to be a truly practical and useful trip planning app but still simple to use.

So, for all the DIY travellers out there, who don’t want automated “inspirations” and actually enjoy the process of working out what to do, where to eat and what to see, we have designed pebblar 1.0 specifically for you. We hope to enable you to create your own unique trips with your own notes anywhere you are, with ease.