June 2, 2009
What is Ruba.com? Ruba.com is the latest in the online travel information sites which can allow the users to find their dream vacations. Ruba.com was founded in 2008 by an avid traveler and former member of Google’s management tea. The service that Ruba.com offers is the ability of its users to have a virtual guided tour of the area they want to travel in their next trip. These guides consist of places of interest, cities, attractions, hotels, resorts, and restaurants.
The website is very easy to use. For example, when a user logs on to Ruba.com, he can plan his trip by clicking on the features on the front of its website. These featured trips will usually have a title to them, such as “A Student’s Guide to Dublin,” or “Top Spots in Laos,” etc. These features posted on Ruba.com are shown with a large easy to see photo of the featured trip and under the titles, the authors of the featured guides are also listed. These guides are very detailed and the user can find everything needed to plan that trip. For example, a student wants to go to Dublin and more than likely does not have a lot of money. He can click on the feature “A Student’s Guide to Dublin.” As that student clicks on that feature, he will find a list of all the necessary places for everyday needs to attractions, hotels and restaurants. For example, should the student need postal services during his stay in Dublin, all he needs to do is to click on the general post office picture on the Student’s Guide to Dublin page. As that student clicks on the General Post Office, he will see a large picture of it if available, if not, he will see a landscape image and just below it a map with a point marking where the general post office is located. This page will also give the user the name of the street and other interesting facts about that area. For example, the student can read historical tidbits about the General Post Office, by mentioning to take note of the bullet holes in the walls due to the location of the General Post Office is where the Easter Uprising took place. It also has the URL of the source of the information. Just below that, there is a button that says “I want to go!” This button will allow the user to create an account with Ruba.com, if he does not have one already. Creating an account with Ruba.com is free and very easy to do.
To create an account with Ruba.com, all the user needs to do is to enter his first and last name, select gender, enter a password, and enter their city. That’s it, and the user is in and ready to continue. After the user has registered his account, he will see the feature travel guide appear on the top of the page. This page offers the user the option to add places to his trip under the headline, “Add Places to My Trip.” He can either choose a guide that interests him or select a place that he might want to see in that featured tour. He can do this by clicking the “Add places to my trip” button. After clicking that button, the user will find large thumbnail photos of places of interest in Dublin. Under each thumbnail the user can also read a caption about the picture in that thumbnail. The thumbnail is a great feature because it is large and easy to see, enticing the user to want to click on that thumbnail. For example, the thumbnail with the caption “Natural History Museum. National Library of Ireland., etc.,” looks interesting. When the user clicks on that thumbnail, he will see a page with thumbnails of all the museums of Dublin. He can add any of these museums to his trip. For example, let’s click on the Natural History Museum thumbnail. The user will go to a page that shows a photo of the museum and a map which shows the museum’s location. The user can click the “add to my trip” button and a drop menu will appear asking the user to either add the “Student Guide to Dublin” trip or to create a new trip. Then a list will appear with places added to the user’s trip.
This is great, but suppose the user is not interested in the featured trips? Well Ruba.com has a solution for that too. So far, the choices are limited, since that Ruba.com is still new and as of April 30, 2009, Ruba.com has only launched its first beta test. However, Ruba.com has a list of destinations in Western Europe and Southeast Asia. The user can click on any of these countries listed in those lists. Let’s look at Thailand, a very popular destination. Once the user clicks on Thailand, he will find a whole list of thumbnails with places in Thailand and he can add anyone of these places to his trip to Thailand.
A user can also make his own guide. All a user has to do is to click on the link, “Make a New Guide.” After clicking on that link, the user will be prompted to type the title of his trip, for example, “The Jewel of the Caucasus: Georgia, a Friendly and Exotic Country.” After the user has typed the title of his guide, all he needs to do is to click on the “next” button, and then the user will be prompted to type in the name of a place and the city or region that place is located. For example, the user can type the “Nariqala Fortress” in “Tbilisi, Georgia.” Then hit the search button, and the user will be asked “Is this the right place?” with the option that has the name of the city which the user typed in, ie Tbilisi, Georgia or “No, this is not the right place.” If the user clicks on the name he typed in, the user will be asked what type of place this is, with three different options: lodging, dining, or activity/attraction. The user should click on the appropriate answer, for example the Nariqala Fortress would be considered an attraction, so for this place the user should click on the activity/attraction option. Then the user can either choose from a group of pictures or upload one of his own pictures. Once the user’s photo has been uploaded, the user will be prompted to write about that place, what was so memorable about that place to him. After typing about that particular place, the user will be prompted to click on to a button that would add another place. The users can also add more to their guide at a later time if they choose to.
The founders of Ruba.com are Mike Cassidy and Arneud Weber. Mr. Cassidy is the main idea in the creation of Ruba.com. Being an avid traveler, Mr. Cassidy has traveled extensively throughout the World and has visited over 25 different countries, including countries in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Mr. Cassidy was even brave enough to travel without guides in Moscow and Leningrad during the height of the Cold War and hiked across the West Bank. Mr. Cassidy has extensive experience in Europe, because his father worked for the US Embassy in London. The idea for Ruba.com was born, as Mr. Cassidy was constantly contemplating his next trip. From this he developed a website where people can plan their trips or even create guides for new places to visit. Mr. Cassidy has also had good business experience as one of the founders of several different startups, which include: Xfire, Direct Hit, and Stylus Innovation. Mr. Cassidy also has an amazing educational background. He studied Jazz piano at the Berklee College of Music and also graduated from MIT with both a BS and an MS in Aerospace Engineering.
Along with being one of the two cofounders of Ruba.com, Mr. Weber is also the company’s CTO and the Vice President of Engineering. Before founding Ruba.com together with Mr. Cassidy, Mr. Weber had worked at Google, where he worked on the Chrome Browser. Before coming to Google, Mr. Weber was a cofounder of Redline Software, where he also worked as the company’s CTO. Redline Software has was acquired by Boreland in 2002.
Ruba.com’s investors are Benchmark Capital and Draper Fisher Juvertson.
Benchmark Capital is a vc firm that believes that the “power of teamwork” makes a company succeed and the vc firm makes all of its investments in powerful teamwork and works with entrepreneurs who are energetic and show great team building skills. Benchmark Capital sets itself apart from other vc firms by working together with their entrepreneurs as a team and every general partner at Benchmark is considered equal. Benchmark Capital has invested in some major companies, such as the popular online auction site, eBay. Other companies in the consumer services that are in Benchmark’s portfolio include Art.com, LogoWorks, FriendFeed, Riot Games, eBags.com, and others.
Draper Fisher Juvertson or DFJ is a vc firm that invests globally and has offices in Menlo Park, California, Shanghai, China, and Bangalore, India. DFJ mainly invests in early stage companies and has over $6 billion under its management. Since DFJ’s inception, the vc firm has invested in more than 600 successful companies. As far as DFJ’s philosophy is concerned, the vc firm claims that they provide their entrepreneurs with more than just capital. DFJ has its partners actively involved with its portfolio companies and offers advice and a whole wide array of resources to their entrepreneurs. Some of the companies that DFJ has invested in include 4INFO, Abuzz, Anagran, Appstream, Box.net, Boxbe, Brightkite, and others.
For more information about Ruba.com, click here.