Burufly hits 1mil users, eyes mobile push
By Gabey Goh April 2, 2014
- Commemorates million-user milestone with special contest
- Raising Series A, focused on user growth, mobile expansion
INDONESIAN-based startup Burufly has one million registered users and is celebrating with a contest to recognise and reward social travellers.
The travel content site, launched in November 2012, claims to be the second highest ranked site in its category in the country with over 600,000 monthly visitors.
Burufly says it was founded on the belief that good travel-related content helps acquire users more efficiently than just relying on marketing.
Generated both by the in-house editorial team and site’s community of users, Burufly features content that is intended to help users understand how they can get to a particular place of interest, what they can do, and how much it costs to get there.
Users are offered the option to make travel bookings from the site as well. This is where it gets a cut from any transaction that transpires.
This is a standard revenue model for travel sites, but because of its content-centric approach, Burufly is currently focused on native ads to power its revenue. Native advertising is an online method where the advertiser tries to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user's current experience.
At the same time, because of its rising traffic, Burufly has begun to attract brand campaigns like photo competitions and sharing competitions which have created traction for both brands and Burufly, claimed Pete Goldsworthy, its founder.
In an email interview with Digital News Asia (DNA), Goldsworthy said after this million-user registration milestone, the focus moving forward is mobile, which actually began with the first release of its iOS app in January 2014.
“We worked with our most engaged users to create a product roadmap of the app and features that they would find most useful,” he said.
To commemorate the milestone, which was achieved just before the end of March, and to thank its users, Burufly is running a contest from March 31 to May 31.
Five winners will be selected based on five distinct social traveller personality types, with prizes to include getaways to a luxury villa in Bali, a Tom Tom navigation system, Bliss Surfer hotel stays and vouchers from Hotel Quickly.
When asked what lessons he and the team have learnt in pursuing their content-first strategy for growth, Goldsworthy said that quality content, across all verticals, will always be more viral than mediocre content, and that helps to translate to organic or viral growth.
“What matters though is ensuring that content is useful for making on-going travel decisions. This was a lesson for us, to create more value in terms of the location of attractions and things to do.
“We originally did not have geographic coordinates in the upload process, fearing the extra steps would cause friction for reviewers. After chatting to focus groups of our members, it was clear that what they would like to see is more information about where this content is located, which hotels are nearest, and what other attractions they could go to that are within walking distance," he added.
On the challenges faced, Goldsworthy (pic) noted that travel is a huge market with a number of players, yet there are segments that are still underserved.
“As a relative newbie to the industry, with a social media and agency background, I approached travel from a left field position, trying to create value for a GenY audience through self-expression.
“Finding that sweet spot that resonates with GenY and creates returns for shareholders will be the key to unlocking the full potential of Burufly,” he added.
He may have already found the sweet spot with advertisers. "We have had feedback from agencies that the other travel content platforms such as Trip Advisor and local portals are more rigid, quite costly and have a less engaged audience.
"An example is a campaign we ran with Samsung where we generated a 2.18% CTR (CLick Through Rate) over a 60-day period, using a static native banner on the home page," he said.
Prior to founding Burufly, Goldsworthy was the managing director of Admax Network in Indonesia and Malaysia, and also the country manager of iProperty Group in Indonesia.
It is this agency background that has led Burufly down the path of developing its own client/ agency tools which brands can use to upload campaigns directly and launch within hours. While there are off-the-shelf tools a savvy portal owner can use, Goldsworthy claims the integration time and cost makes it more optimal to build one's own software.
Initially self-funded, Burufly received an undisclosed amount of investment from Walden International and Batavia Incubator in April 2013.
That was quickly followed by another round of funding from Ardent Capital in June 2013. Ardent Capital describes itself as the leading digital venture builder, incubator and investor in South-East Asia with seven startup investments in the region.
Burufly It is also currently in the midst of raising Series A funding, though Goldsworthy declined to share any ballpark figure in terms of the company’s valuation.
Goldsworthy however shared that Burufly has yet to hit profitability and explained that the current aim, when queried about its multiple fundraising rounds in the span of the company’s relatively short lifespan, was growth.
“We’re funding for acceleration. As founders, we would rather own a smaller percentage of a really big company than the super majority of a tiny company."
When asked about how the startup got its name, Goldsworthy said, “Buru buru in Bahasa Indonesia means in a hurry or efficient, which was one of the first words I learnt when arriving in Jakarta in 2007. I found it oxymoronic because so many people used the word when going to meetings but really cannot be efficient because of the traffic.
“I also learnt the word berburu, which means hunting, so my hope was that Burufly users can hunt for their next holidays more efficiently,” he explained.