Many of you know we have been quietly working on our first full-function Pebblar mobile apps. Well, I am excited to announce that we have finished them! Both iOS and Android versions are now available for download.
This marks a major milestone for us as it is the only itinerary planning app available where you can build, edit, and track itineraries for any type of trip with as much detail as you’d like.
For our fellow DIY travelers, it means you can now plan and update a full itinerary on the go!
So this is how Pebblar mobile app works:
Add your cities and city dates
Add your wishlist of places under each city (restaurants, hotels, sights, activities, events etc)
Date each saved place to your itinerary
Preview your itinerary (in either list or map view) and you are done!
We are very excited to finally unveiling this as we truly hope this will completely change the way we plan our customized travel itineraries. We would to get your feedback!
I have seen many people on Google and Quora asking How do I plan a travel itinerary?
For example (source: Google search):
Based on what I have read, everyone I have talked to and my own experiences, I think most DIY travellers’ trip planning process looks somewhat like this:
Pick a general direction (e.g. a country or specific region)
Do your pre-trip research – which cities/towns to hit, what is there to do, where to eat and stay etc
Put together a wishlist and pin them on a map
Work out how long it takes to travel from A to B and how long you need for each place and sort these details into a day-by-day itinerary
Once you can confirm your travel dates, book everything or at least the key items (e.g. flights, hotels, the must-go sights and restaurants).
Save down booking details and documents and keep fine-tuning your wishlist and trip itinerary
*Sometimes some people book their flights and hotels first then work out the details which is perfectly fine too.
So how does Pebblar make your planning process easier?
Disclaimer: we don’t do offer content or booking. There are already many well-established platforms for recommendations, reviews and booking e.g. Instagram, Youtube, Tripadvisor, Hotels.com, Expedia, Kayak, Skyscanner, the list goes on, plus the good old fashioned family and friends! We really don’t think people need another platform.
Step 3, 4 & 6 is where we come in. So basically, Pebblar is your one master tool to store and share all your trip research, booking details and itinerary!
With all the technological advancements we have today, most DIY travelers are still switching between Google Maps and Microsoft Word. It is messy and inefficient. It is even worse with group trips when you have to collate everyone’s inputs and keep everyone updated, especially if it involves people from different parts of the world.
Pebblar has combined the core functions of Word and Google Maps into one collaborative map-based workspace, so you and your friends can now map out all your trip ideas and create a detailed itinerary in one place and in real-time. Then, when people are on the trip, all their trip information would be in one place (Pebblar mobile apps) accessible anywhere even without internet.
Sorry we have been so quiet over the last few months, we have been busy working on some very exciting new functions.
As you all know, Pebblar’s goal has always been to become the tool for anyone who likes to plan their own trip itineraries – no matter the trip type or how complicated they are. Over the last couple of months, many of our users have emailed us and told us that they have been looking for a tool just like Pebblar. There is simply nothing more rewarding than that.
While we continue to make Pebblar faster and more stable, we also want to take it one step further – real-time collaboration no matter how many people are travelling together or where they are in the world.
I still remember the old days when I used to get together with friends to map out our trip on a big paper map (like the picture below). It was always a lot of fun.
Nowadays, with friends and family all over the world, it is hard to get everyone in the same room. We want to recreate that same “in-person” planning experience, even if people are not in the same place or even time-zone.
That is exactly what we have been quietly working on in the background – group trip planning in real-time. With the help of cloud infrastructure, you and your friends can now collaborate on Pebblar no matter where they are in the world.
As part of our real-time collaboration capability, we have planned a suite of real-time collaboration functions, including:
Trip Buddies’ online status (already available);
Multi-user real-time editing (already available);
Real-time notification (to be released in late June/early July); and
Real-time commenting under each city place (to be released in early July)
We firmly believe that planning a trip isn’t the painful part, the painful part is having to use Excel. While most existing “trip planning” tools chose to focus on automation and suggested itineraries, we want to focus the DIY travelers and give them a place to coordinate any place, with anyone, at anytime.
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! 😊
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).
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.
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.