How traveling can trigger new ideas?

Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy

Last year, together with my brother I was on a one week trip to Rome in Italy. We didn’t prepare at all. We just decided on the destination, bought the tickets, pack ourselves and went there. We touched down the Ciampino airport and took the bus to our Airbnb room. Then we started to think what to see and how to experience the City in the best way. I am an architect. Things like historical buildings and squares are super interesting to me. In Rome every street and house are witnesses of the distant past. Every stone there has a history.

We downloaded offline maps on our phones. We checked the most famous landmarks that I knew from my architectural school and we hit the city. That wasn’t efficient.

Me, walking the streets of Rome

We were going from one place to another. We stopped. We checked Wikipedia. We compared the wiki facts with the reality and went to another point of interests. We spend a lot of time looking at our phones instead of enjoying the caput mundi.

Once, we had an espresso in a bar. We talked and we got an idea. It would be nice to have something that could help people experience new locations in a different way. Something that allows getting information about new places without any preparations or effort. My brother is a computer guy, so the obvious answer was to make an app for that.

That was the moment when initial idea of Echotags was born. We spent the evening making some initial mockups and thoughts about the idea. We wanted to make an app that allows short term visitors and solo travelers to have an unique experience. They should concentrate one hundred percent on the visited city. The app should work in the background and be invisible for the user. It should give only relevant feedback for a moment. A user can go wherever he wants and get information about an interesting place at the moment when he reaches it. The app should use geo-tagging to deliver information on a spot in audio format via earbuds.

We thought that the perfect place to verify the idea might be Amsterdam, where I live. We worked for half a year in our free time and we managed to make Echotags live. You can check it on http://echotags.io We are super proud of it. It is our first independent product.

I am sure that that idea didn’t appear in our heads if that trip to Rome had not happened. We were outside our normal surroundings. We spotted a problem. We saw a potential in solving it and we made a product.

I think that during travels you think more creatively than during normal working days. You don’t have to bother yourself with everyday little problems. You start thinking bigger and clearer. Traveling time is not everyday time. It is special. You are like an observer, who sees the opportunity and automatically finds the answer for it. Let yourself to find that answer.