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Silicon Valley travel startup chooses Miami for launch

By Andrew Sherry

ShormanWhen Triptrotting CEO Aigerim Shorman was looking for a place to launch her company’s new mobile recommendation app Wist, she didn’t choose San Francisco, where the travel startup is based. Instead, she chose Miami.

An unconventional choice for a startup backed by Google Ventures, Idealab and other California-based investors? Perhaps, but Shorman said she had three solid reasons to do it.

  • * Miami has a vibrant tech community where you can find early adopters, yet they are not oversaturated with new offerings. “In San Francisco, developers download 20 apps a day, but they won’t become users,” she said.
  • * Miami has an international population, which reflects the desired user base for Wist. Triptrotting, she said, is used in 175 countries.
  • * Miami has the density and diversity of bars and restaurants that are the primary fodder of a recommendation app.

“We think Miami is a great launching ground that is overlooked by the Silicon Valley startups,” she said. “It has an incredible food and nightlife scene and diverse international population, making it perfect to launch global consumer-facing products. Plus, we can have a bit of a first-mover advantage, since all of our competitors are focused on launching in San Francisco and New York.”

Wist-logo-orangeShorman unveiled Wist at a Refresh Miami meet-up last week where Facebook’s director of engineering, John Ciancutti, spoke about bridging the gap between engineers and entrepreneurs. More than 400 people showed up despite a torrential downpour, and Shorman said many downloaded the app on the spot.

Wist makes recommendations based on several dimensions: your location/time of day; what it knows of your interests; and the behavior of others in your social network. It gives just five recommendations at a time.

Shorman’s firm plans to refine Wist based on feedback from Miami then take it global, replacing Triptrotting’s website as the startup goes mobile-only.  Whether it succeeds will take time, but Shorman’s Miami launch was a success on at least one level, garnering a story from TechCrunch.

Wist is available for iOS from the AppStore.

Andrew Sherry is vice president of communications at Knight FoundationThis blog post was written for the Knight Foundation's blog and cross-posted with permission.