Tomo — From v1 to v2, and the importance of failing fast

Our new website:

We wanted to announce that we’re working on Tomo v2 and what that’s about, but I decided to bring v1 into context as well and showcase what we’ve learned along the way.

v1: Tomo

We started working on Tomo 8 months ago, when Vlad and I joined forces to build awesome stuff. Since then we’ve played with bots, tried to replace traditional travel agencies, and learned — a lot, be it incorporating a startup, hosting your own GitLab instance, or scheduling containers in a Docker cluster.

Long long time ago.

But let’s focus on Tomo. Tomo was meant to replace traditional travel agents by moving the whole interaction to a new level — in a chat bot. You’d still talk to human travel agents, but they’d be more powerful, offering better suggestions and making things easier for you more than a normal travel agent could. On top of that, it’d all be inside Messenger, which is now ubiquitous.

Everything sounded great for digital nomads and even existing travel agents,(and we had interviewed lots of them), but that shouldn’t have been our focus. What we got wrong was that the people who use chat bots are the very same people who do their own booking — searching for a place to go, somewhere to stay, activities to do, that’s all part of the journey for them. And it’s hard to replace that experience.

However, we only realised that in January, 5 months later. I think it’s alright though, it could’ve been worse, those 5 months could’ve been 10.

So we’re moving on to…

Did you know that “tomo” means “long time friend” in Japanese?

v2: Tomo Cheap Flights

We decided to focus on another aspect of the travelling experience—finding and taking advantage of deals. Tomo now helps people find cheaper flights no matter where they’re going. Together with Tomo (which is still a chat bot on Facebook Messenger), we search for deals, make recommendations, and teach people how to save money.

We’d love to hear your feedback, suggestions, and ideas. You can chat with Tomo right here:

In the end, we’re happy with how Tomo has evolved. Eventually, we might give the initial idea another try, but until then we’re focused on cheap flights. Sayonara!