July 11, 2012
Q&A, Jeremy Fisher, co-founder, Wander
Last year JWT New York launched a partnership with TechStars, the No. 1 startup accelerator program, as a part of the agency’s ongoing innovation efforts. Over the next few weeks we’ll spotlight a few of the startups from TechStars’ spring 2012 group. Wander, “a place for people to share the places they’ve been, the places they want to go, and the places they are connected to,” has been generating buzz for a while, although the site is only just getting off the ground. Co-founder Jeremy Fisher, a New Yorker, also founded Dinevore and previously worked at Morgan Stanley. Over email, he explained what differentiates Wander from other travel recommendation sites, the macro trends behind the idea and why relationships are more important than recommendations.
What is Wander’s 30-second elevator pitch?
Wander is a beautiful way to share and experience the world. We’re developing technology to facilitate exploration, discovery and imagination.
What inspired the creation of Wander?
I’d been working on building a service called Dinevore, which was meant to be the best way to pick a place to eat (a better Zagat or better Yelp). So the metaphor was the guidebook. After a while, we realized that the guidebook metaphor was wrong. The most successful players in the space weren’t succeeding because they’d created a better guidebook, they were succeeding because they’d become the destination of choice for people to express themselves in the context of places.
The insight was that Yelp was a structured blogging platform. Wander is a service built explicitly to let people express themselves through places.
How do you want consumers to use Wander?
You’d use Wander when you want to share something about a place, or whenever you wish you were somewhere else—i.e., when you have wanderlust.
What are some of the macro trends this business is based upon?
We’re part of a new set of companies building software around emotion, anticipation, aspiration and nostalgia. Timehop, Pair and Pinterest are some other good examples.
There are quite a lot of companies doing great design and paying close attention to detail, but we see ourselves as the only one doing that in a more comprehensive, end-to-end way. The closest parallel would be Apple’s attention to packaging design. We realize that a consumer’s experience of our product extends beyond simply using the product itself. It’s the word-of-mouth, your T-shirts, the company blog, the real-life events you organize, etc.
We’re also seeing more and more startups taking cues from neuroscience and psychology and social gaming, and incorporating game-like mechanics (as opposed to explicit game mechanics themselves).
How does Wander utilize social aspects of media to enhance the experience of travel?
Social solves an epistemic problem. Take recommendations, for instance. Social gives us context and makes it easy for us to know what to do with a recommendation. That is, do we follow the recommendation or not? Nonsocial recommendations are much more opaque. But the real value of a social layer on an object or topic—whether that is news or recommendations or travel—is that the object/topic becomes a foundation on which to build real relationships.
What differentiates Wander from other information hub/travel recommendation engines that utilize the social graph, such as Wanderfly?
We believe that recommendations are not ultimately that valuable or interesting. They’re just a means to a greater end. We’re all about relationships, and we let users share recommendations and content to help build relationships.
How can Wander help improve users’ travel experiences?
If you use Wander, you’ll have more and better friends.
In the past, you had to wait until a trip ended to tell friends and family about it. Now that can happen instantly. How is real-time sharing changing the travel experience?
It’s easier than it’s ever been to live vicariously, and that’s amazing.
How do you see travel experiences evolving in the next few years?
There’s going to be a shift in where value is located. It’s relocating forward and backward in time from the experience itself, first in anticipating and later in reliving the experience.
When can we expect Wander to be up and running?
It’ll be invite-only for the foreseeable future (like Pinterest).
What do you hope to see Wander doing in the next five years?
Something we could never imagine now.
Image credit: Wander