02 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Somewhere, Someone Just Had The Same Idea As You

A simple idea struck

Two weeks ago, while doings lapses at the swimming pool, a quite simple idea struck me:

What if we were able to plan and track our travel expenses online?

I once had a travel blog and kept a meticulous budget of (mostly) everything I was spending during a 3-month trip throughout South America . The goal was to make sure I wasn’t spending too much money, and to share later how much you would expect to spend in each country with my blog readers and anyone interested.

I ended up not blogging about this detailed budget, but I think this could be useful to many travelers. I, for sure, would have liked to know how much the trip could cost me.

The idea had just been started somewhere else

So, here I was in the swimming pool, and the following days, brainstorming with a friend about how we could start a website helping travelers track their budget, and seeing what would be the typical budget for a given city/country and for each category (accomodation, food, etc.). Quite amazingly I could find no website at all doing this – there were only a few very basic budget calculators that would predict how much you would spend based on an average per country. What if we actually had a wealth of travel budgets that could predict a budget more precisely?

After a week of brainstorming about the idea, I was still looking on the Internet for potential competitors, and there I saw it: there were a couple of reviews written the previous day about a new site called Budget Your Trip, which had just launched and in essence did the same as  what we were thinking! Tracking a budget, sharing it with other travelers, getting budget estimates…

Lessons learned

I learned a few things in the process:

  • Sport is good for creativity: I get most of my sparks of insight during running or swimming.
  • Somewhere, someone just had the same idea as you: since the playing field has been leveled, what Thomas Friedman described in The World Is Flat, the competition for ideas is global, which means that you are not going to be left a long time alone with an original idea. People all over Europe, USA and increasingly Asia are thinking about new ideas and implementing them all the time.
  • Since an original idea has such a short lifespan, it’s critical to seek feedback and implementing it in a minimal amount of time: do it, get it out there, and see what the reaction is. This is what Eric Ries’s blog is all about: the minimum viable product.

So, what are we going to do now that this idea has been already implemented? We don’t know yet. The initial attraction has lost some of its power, but it’s still possible to do something in this area. If you have ideas about what would make a budgeting website for independent travelers kick ass, let me know in the comments!

Congrats! You made it until the end. You can follow me on Twitter.

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