Former IT & engineering students’ travel app worth $2M just weeks after launch

A group of former Griffith engineering and IT  students have struck gold with their new travel app worth $2 million just weeks after it was launched.

The idea for Ventoura was formed during a backpacking overseas when they noticed a gap in the market for apps promoting unique and low-cost tours around the world, while also connecting holiday-makers both before and after their trip, in a similar way to Tinder.

Ten of the 12 people who developed Ventoura are now working full time for the company, four of them out of Helsinki, and most are still aged in their early 20s.

On the back of a prototype in 2014 venture capitalists in Finland invested $375,000 in their business, laying the foundation for their recent success.

Jamin Wood is a co-founder of travel app 'Ventoura', developed by a group of Griffith stu
Jamin Wood is a co-founder of travel app ‘Ventoura’, developed by a group of Griffith students that helps travellers connect with locals. The app has taken off around the world. Photo: Kit Wise

Former engineering student Jamin Wood said the development of the business had been “an amazing ride”.

“You don’t get the opportunity to be a part of something like this very often,” he said.

“We only started working on it last year and things picked up quickly.”

Mr Wood said he hoped the app would empower thousands of other people to start their own businesses, on the back of the tour feature it offered.

Budding tourism operators can register their tour ideas on the Ventoura app before starting up on the Gold Coast and elsewhere.

Cultural, fashion, boat, walking, foodie and photography tours are among the experiences already being offered around the world by Ventoura.

“I think it is a really good part of the app and hopefully it takes off,” Mr Wood said.

“For a lot of people it will mean that they don’t have to work 9-5 anymore; they can do what they want.”

Business partner Raymond Siems said the idea came out of a trip to Paris when he and a friend got an unexpected guided tour of the city from a local.

“An opera singer showed us around after she got sick and couldn’t work for five days,” he said.

“She showed two uncultured engineering students something we would never have discovered on our own.”

More than 3000 users have already signed up to the app around the world and most of them are in Europe thanks to the company’s focus on the area leading into the peak tourism season.

“The European summer is a really important opportunity for us,” Mr Siems said.

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