By Lauren Hermon
It wasn’t until a trio of mates from Adelaide found themselves in France when they thought it would be cool to help other travellers explore the globe.
Six months after their initial idea, Lucas Lovell, Mitch Pascoe and Charles Inglis were back in Adelaide finishing their university degrees when they decided it was time to “give it a crack”. (Featured in the headline image, from left to right: Mitch, Lucas and Charles)
Now, less than a year since officially launching the smartphone app, Tenderfoot has been downloaded by travellers in 80 countries, particularly those living in Australia, the United Kingdom, America and New Zealand.
“It was really a mixture of our interests in travel and business which was the motivation to create the app,” Lucas says.
Tenderfoot automatically reads your location and arranges the places around you under the categories of ‘Do, Bite, Drink & Dream’.
It uses a series of algorithms to give you a completely personalised rating. This is something Lucas says is probably the biggest point of difference compared to other travel apps.
“We’re essentially helping people find experiences around the world, but all of the experiences are personalised and tailored to the user,” Lucas says. “No two people will see the same recommendations,” he adds.
The app won’t just connect you with places; it can also help you find other like-minded travellers.
When you go travelling, you can add trips and all of the people you meet along the way are stored in that trip.
Initially launched as a ‘social network’ for travellers, it was more about connecting with people until the boys changed their business direction.
“We realised there probably wasn’t enough value to pull people away from traditional social media like Facebook, so the app has become more of a travel discovery service which is all about finding new experiences no matter where you are in the world,” Lucas says.
The term ‘tenderfoot’ is one that is used as the ‘first level’ of scouts in America.
“We liked the idea of it being about treading and finding new experiences, and we thought it was catchy and a bit different… it has strong travel and discovery connotations,” he says.
Starting with ‘baby footsteps’ and now taking large strides towards success, you’d think being ‘young’ and having the world at their feet would mean ‘world domination’ is the next step.
Surprisingly, the boys, aged in their twenties, are for now enjoying travelling at a smart, slow and more steady pace.
“Our philosophy is that from a business point of view, it’s wiser to concentrate on a micro market rather than try to go out and dominate the world straight away,” Lucas explains.
“So, for the moment, our focus is on Adelaide and Australia, and then hopefully the app’s success grows organically from there.”
And the co-founders’ focus on building a “local presence” is strong.
“Now that we’ve come out of the tech development phase, we’re shifting to acquisition and marketing strategies by building relationships with hostels and other accommodation providers,” Lucas says.
They recently had discussions with South Australian Tourism Commission to feature Tenderfoot flyers in tourism centres across Adelaide, as well as other potential future projects with Adelaide City Council.