55L - MVP | Skillshare Projects

Jake Simms

Tourist and Vagabond



55L - MVP

Logo and branding still in the works. Hence an indiscriminate image for the project cover photo that uses Helvetica.


A form on a page that allows a user to select a destination/area I've been (ex: New York, Vietnam), and ask for advice and/or stories. I charge a small fee ($1-3) and send them an email with my experience there, some advice, some pictures, and anything else someone who is going to a location might want to know.

The idea is that if you were thinking about doing a trip to someplace you know i've been, a normal move would have been to buy me a beer or a coffee ($3-5) while I transferred that knowledge and showed you some photos. The unique offer is somewhat personalized working knowledge of a location with opinions (ex: I did x, but had I known then, I would have done y) of another traveler, as opposed to just a list of things guide-book style, or pouring through blog posts. I only offer places I have been (or other writers on staff) have been within the last 2 years.  

In an x to y sense - it is like letter.ly for travel writers, but rather than pushing to an audience in an email, the customer gets to choose specific areas of my travel experience to receive.

What I'd love to know from the SkillShare community and classroom.

Would you use this? What's the most interesting part?

If not, why wouldn't you use this? What would I need to have in order to gain your trust?

What's in a name?  

55L is 55 liters. The size of the backpack I lived out of for half a year. The assumption is that the primary audience would be career breakers, gap year travelers, or other people who have gone through the process of thinking "how big of a bag do I need?"

The three largest problems. 

1. Trust

  • How do I know that you have been there? 
  • How do I know that once I pay you I am going to receive an email?

2. Value 

  • How do I know that your information is going to be unique and not something that I can read in the lonely planet books?
  • I don’t give two shits about your thoughts and opinions. Why should I care?
  • Unless by spending money on you I save money on my trip, I don’t see why I should pay.

3. Opinions are like assholes 

  • The internet is a giant room full of strangers, all willing to give advice for free. Instead of paying one stranger for advice, I would walk around the room getting free advice from multiple strangers, trending towards objectivity and truth.
  • There is free information in spades from apparently more experienced travelers,  I’m not going to pay for yours.

Possible Solutions...

1. Trust

  • Use photos from Flickr accounts of writers. (helps verify what was seen, when and where) 

  • About page that explains summaries of why we know what we know about Locations / Experience Explanations that (which could be cross checked wth Flickr photos) 

  • Shows Flickr dates / Foursquare checkins on locations we’ve been (further evidence) 

  • Establish personal brand of writers (links to blogs/twitter handles that show they are avid explorers)  

  • Free Trials 

  • Guaranteed turnarounds

2. Value

  • “expiration date” on locations - if me or another writer has not been there in x months, we don’t offer advice on it anymore.

  • CITE, link to, recommend, and support the many resources we used to make decisions. Rather than make other information competition, we advocate it as valuable. We tell our narrative, no one elses. 

  • Offer a an email choice that focuses on preparation. For people on the edge of taking a gap year / career break it acts as a definitive “how to prep / motivational speech” email.   

  • Travel Planner - aka - let us build you an itinerary option. (user picks where they are going and we take care of the rest).

  • Offer stories. Not only do we offer tips, but quality writing as well. Tips with entertainment. A Mix of Gonzo Journalism and Lonely Planet.

3. Opinions are like assholes 

  • Short, informational blog posts to give some awareness for searchers, and when pertinient, run keyword experiments

  • Have writers contribute heavily to WikiTravel. If all the basic facts are out in the open and easy to access, then we can help users deal with the paradox of choice. 
  • Have a better designed and simpler landing page than other spammy top search results

  • Detect keyword searched and display contextual images on landing page

  • Focus on mobile experience first since other top results aren’t super awesome in that area.  

First steps to fix

  • Trust - Write several travel focused posts on medium to establish my personal brand and expertise (since I’ll be the only writer to start)

  • Trust/Value - Build coming soon landing page stating value prop and offer signup to get notified when we’re launching that includes:

    • Email

    • Locations offered most interested in

    • Locations not offered most interested in

    • Are you getting trip inspiration, or are they ready to go and just gathering actionable information

  • Value/Trust  - Create trip summary page that explains my trip/s and links to relevant Flickr sets (which have dates), include clearly stated turnaround time, and clearly stated expiration date on locations

  • Trust - Send Free Trials to everyone that signed up to be notified  

  • Value - Write more posts that target specifically what the users who signed up to be notified would be interested in reading to test if it resonates with a larger audience.  

Goal/Success Metric

  • Activation. Are people even interested? Get 25 email notification signups from strangers.

Solutions to implement

  • Landing page with form and value prop (I can get friends and family to sign up, but the real test is strangers).

How will I reach first 100 users / customers?

  • Stories of my travels and career break on Medium

  • Flyers and talks at Travel Bookstores in NYC/Brooklyn Area

  • Facebook Advertising targeted to certain job titles / age groups that would be prone to taking some time off

Week long experiment  

  • Launch coming soon landing page with form

  • Write 1-2 blog posts with referral links

  • Run short FB ad campaign


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