Every traveller knows the feeling of journeying to a new country yet not feeling immersed in the culture. Often stuck in the role of a tourist, you need a way to access a more authentic lifestyle. Enter MYrago, the Startup connecting you with locals that provides you with the cultural activities and experience every traveller is after. Whether you want to zipline through a wildlife monkey reserve, learn an ancient war dance from a Māori Warrior or simply herd goats in Portugal, MYrago gives you what you need to make it happen.
AlleyWatch spoke with cofounder Yashika Shah about the company and how it plans to change the tourist industry terrain.
Tell us about the product or service
We are an experiential travel startup that brings locals and travelers together for super offbeat, #NotATourist experiences. For instance:
- Be a Goat Herder for a Day in Portugal
- Go on a Jazz Crawl with a celebrated Jazzist in Harlem
- Learn the war dance from a Maori Warrior in New Zealand
- Cook in the Jungles of Thailand with a Monk
These are experiences that cannot be found in typical travel guides and open a glimpse of the local life to the traveler.
Our goal is to be the first for all things offbeat and non-touristy when it comes to travel. We want our clients to come to MYrago to understand everything from- what to do, eat, drink, know and where to go when exploring the unknown (i.e. no Yelp, FB, or Google Reviews but authentic suggestions coming straight from locals) Launching offbeat Experiences is phase 1 of ultimately establishing that one-stop-shop credibility with our clients.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
The tour & activities market is currently at $135B and scheduled to grow to $185B by 2020. Getting a sliver of that won’t be too shabby!
What is the business model?
We take a 20% cut of all experiences booked.
What inspired the business?
So, this may sound too kumbaya and/or political but to be completely honest it is mainly because of the stuff that’s going on right now. Both my cofounder and I are immigrants from varied cultures. The world has a lot of hate going around. One of the main reasons for this is a lack of understanding of where the other person is coming from. We are quick to jump and put people in boxes when they don’t match our viewpoints. What if we were to take a step back to understand the experiences and the local cultural landscape that has shaped this person to form his/her viewpoint? Imagine the kind of world we could create if we agreed to disagree or at least understood why a person thinks the way they think! Travel is a great way to break this barrier down and open a window into the local life. But more often than not, we forget to truly appreciate the reasons of what makes a city, country and its people so beautiful. We want to change all of this through MYrago.
This same idea has been tried countless times before. Why will your startup succeed?
That’s a great question and in full transparency – we have no experience in the travel industry other than traveling to a number of countries and undertaking local activities. However, what we do have is unwavering passion, determination & hard-work to make a difference in the way people travel & experience life – qualities that cannot be quantified but can only be felt. To help make our case, in the 5 months that we have been operating, between my co-founder and I, we have been able to onboard ~335 experiences and ~135 locals across 22 countries on our platform.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Our focus right now is only on growth – our 6 month goal is to have a steady month over month growth rate of 20%
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
It is more important to start than to start right. – If you don’t start your business, nothing will happen. Whatever it is that’s keeping you from launching is the very thing you either need to ignore or tackle head-on.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey – the cofounders of WeWork. They literally disrupted a traditional industry and popularized the shared workspace culture by making it more accessible to the average Joe and Jane. Technology has reduced the need to be tethered to the corporate desk but WeWork added the missing piece of having a portable workspace where innovation can take place. We would love to chat with them mainly because the space we are venturing into is also about changing mindset. We would love to gain valuable lessons and insights that they could share about their successes and failures, which are generally not covered by the press.
Why did you launch in New York?
Energy of the city – you cannot find this combination anywhere in the world! Running a startup is stressful enough, why not do it in a city that you love and feels like home?
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Cheryl’s Global Soul –its this soul food restaurant in Prospect Park which also does amazing brunch!