The Best Update Ever from Hitlist (#24)

When your June update comes in July, you know it’s been a full month (this was sent out July 15th).

HITLIST UPDATES

  • Debuted our new ‘City Guides’, in partnership with Condé Nast Traveler. We’ll continue to add content from select publishers and bloggers
  • Released v3.6, highlights: improved search & filtering: reordering results according to personal history, search +/- 3 days, more intuitive navigation; hide cities from trips you’re watching: if you want alerts for getaways to some destinations but not everywhere, slide left to hide undesired cities; better signaling when prices change on trips you’ve been watching
  • +1s from Business Insider, Harper’s Bazaar, Elite Daily
  • Inspired by Buffer, which has been transparent about its triumphs and travails as it’s built, we’ve moved the company blog, with the archive of these updates, over to Medium
  • Last month’s focus was user acquisition. We pushed a new social media strategy which increased our reach >2x and led to a nice boost in active users — happy to share tips

THIS MONTH

Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr, recently penned a great article in Medium on The Age of the Cockroach. Much has been made of ‘unicorns’, the startups whose valuations soared past $1bn in the last few years. But investor appetites have cooled, and the companies that will survive are, in Caterina’s reckoning, the cockroaches:

‘Cockroaches have outlasted doomsday asteroids and dinosaur extinctions. They can live for six weeks without food. They are not choosy about what they eat; they don’t need sugar, which other insects crave… They move fast.’

Our own doomsday asteroid hit last year in the form of a financing round gone awry. We laid off staff, cut expenses, narrowed our product vision… and managed to keep user numbers and bookings growing throughout.

If Caterina’s right, now should be our time to shine. We’ve brought Hitlist to a point of self-sufficiency and steady growth without venture capital (albeit with assistance from amazing angel investors). We move fast.

That being said, we’d like to try things that are too risky without additional resources, so we will likely seek an institutional round in the coming months. This month’s ask:

  1. For founders: your best tips for raising capital efficiently (I may combine these with my own learnings for a guest post somewhere)
  2. For investors: the key metrics you look for in consumer-facing apps. Beyond the obvious DAU/MAU, time spent per active user, are there any big ‘tells’ you look for?
  3. For all: if you’d like to collaborate on our new City Guides, let me know

WHY WE’RE DOING THIS

Getting personal: my brother was due to fly out of Istanbul a few hours after the attacks last Tuesday night. Thankfully he wasn’t there yet, but dozens were, and like everyone I’m appalled and saddened at the senseless loss of life.

One thing I took away from years living in less stable parts of the world was how our worldviews evolve when we travel. Studies have shown that those who travel more have higher levels of ‘generalized trust’, or faith in the goodness of humanity. Getting people to travel more increases peace, stability, and understanding at a macro level.

This is why we’re building Hitlist: we make travel more affordable so more people can get step off a plane somewhere new and fall in love with humanity.

GIF OF THE MONTH: let’s just go with calm & beautiful

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