Becoming a co-founder of a location-based tech start-up was something unimaginable until I came to King’s College London.
The university was the major catalyst to my entrepreneurial journey – from joining King’s College London Business Club to getting involved in the various activities organised by King’s Entrepreneurship Institute, I slowly began to immerse myself into the world of entrepreneurship. Whilst in the business club, in 2016, I attended an overseas business trip to Vienna along with many other aspiring entrepreneurial-minded school mates. It was through this trip that I got to know Alessandro Cholet, who later on joined me in becoming the co-founder of ExplorR.
ExplorR – Adventure Time
In 2017, I had the opportunity to take part in London’s first ever “venture crawl” pioneered by my university, where for an entire day I was taken to some of London’s top innovation hubs and workspaces to experience London’s startup ecosystem first-hand and meet top entrepreneurial leaders. My decision to become an entrepreneur became firmer when ExplorR was selected to become one of the 20 ventures to be supported by the King’s 20 Accelerator Program.
The idea of ExplorR actually began to form without me. It was back in June 2017 when co-founders Alessandro Cholet and Jingwu Shang first met each other in a summer course at HEC Paris business school. After the summer program, when Alessandro returned to London and Jingwu to the United States, both co-founders maintained contact and shared their own experiences of travelling. Eventually, they discovered that they had a common desire to fundamentally change the way people travel.
Alessandro had always wanted to travel to China, discover its culture and experience living like a local but found it hard to do so with tour companies. Jingwu, on the other hand, was frustrated with the Chinese local tour companies that brought tourists to commercial destinations instead of authentic cultural places. Back in London, Alessandro discussed this problem with me, while I was studying at King’s College, and I introduced the idea of discovering unique places through a location-based game. The three of us soon agreed upon the gamification concept, and the venture kicked off when our friend Andy Li joined the team as the latest co-founder who was responsible for converting our idea into a functioning prototype.
What is ExplorR?
In a nutshell, ExplorR is a location-based travel game mobile app that aims to re-connect people with their surroundings. ExplorR facilitates the excitement of spontaneous travel by enabling users to roam around cities and find intriguing places through a ‘Pokemon-Go’ like experience. We designed it so when the user opens up the app, they will see nearby points of interest on a 3D map interface. They can go to them and discover the place – they’ll have the option to purchase the location card which will generate in-game coins over time – like Monopoly in real life! These coins can be used to purchase in-game content, such as character customisation items and more location cards, or exchanged for real-life discounts from our partner vendors.
One of our proudest moments so far was when we were officially accepted into Kings20 Accelerator in October 2018. Within less than a month, we have received intensive support that propelled the progress of ExplorR. We have access to experienced mentors that have given advice on Growth Hacking, Market Validation, and Pitching Techniques.
Furthermore, we worked with an accounting firm – a partner of King’s Entrepreneurship Institute – that helped us establish an accounting system and handle our business administration matters for free during the course of the accelerator program. Most importantly, the Kings20 community has been supportive in sharing their struggles and expertise and has made our entrepreneurial journey a much less stressful one.
Mark Yeo Tee Shen is the co-founder of ExplorR