Chozun (途赞) is a travel destination experience, as well as a loyalty and lifestyle ecosystem powered by a crypto-currency and backed by blockchain and smart-contract technology.
The ecosystem exists to make sure travelers are matched to the best personalized local experiences and services using proprietary data and AI that allows users to build loyalty across multiple verticals as well as globally.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
We were inspired to create our company because we were frequent travelers ourselves and had the pain-points we are now solving—Teresa actually came up with the initial idea when we were both on a work trip to the US and found we were wasting too much time looking for things to do, places to go—traveling sites and reviews but being inundated with noise.
We wanted an easier solution that told us what to do when traveling, based on how we rather than others liked it.
We decided that before diving into building the company, we needed to validate our idea and determine if others had our pains when traveling. We initially did this just by asking people to text us initially! We found that others—in fact, a majority of travelers—suffered the overload of noisy and irrelevant information when trying to find what to do and where to go in destinations.
Along the journey, we also learned that there was a huge opportunity to improve loyalty for millennial travelers. Given we are our audience, we were inspired and passionate to make a change and revolutionize travel.
Tell us about your business.
Chozun (途赞) focuses on the millennial independent travel market and specifically serves China’s growing millennial outbound travelers. We plan to target Asia’s wider middle-class millennial market and grow into a global player.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
- We will be running an amazing travel package competition in the coming weeks.
- We’re also Airdropping CZN (our travel cryptocurrency), so there’s the opportunity to be an early adopter of CZN.
- Follow us on social media @bechozun and www.chozun.com to keep in the loop.
- ACBA Finalist 2018
- GBC Women’s Entrepreneurship Winners China 2016
- Seedstars Finalists 2016
- Best Foreign Startup in China Winners 2016
- Labeled Top Travel Apps in China – Travel Daily 2016
Where is your business based?
We have offices in Melbourne, Australia & Shanghai, China. We are live in 22 cities across Asia Pacific.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
Before we even began to build anything, we gathered a group of friends, colleagues, and members of our extended network. We asked them to tell us about trying to find what to do or where to go on their travels. We were inundated with responses.
This helped us validate that others had the same frustration that we had. After this exercise, we better understood the most popular types of services and experiences millennial travelers wanted and needed. From there we built a (clunky) initial prototype and beta tested it within the Asian market for a few months.
We were the first Australian company to be invited to participate in Chinaccelerator in China. That really helped us start the foundation to build the product we have today, become validated, and grow the market.
Before embarking on the journey with crypto and Blockchain, we asked our existing customers and partners if they saw a need for it and if they wanted it. We had an overwhelmingly positive response, particularly with the travel loyalty component we’re introducing.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Initially, it was through word of mouth and making corporate partnerships (who would deliver our service to big companies with many employees). We organically and sustainably grew by taking the approach of having quality customers that we could rely on to give us honest feedback and spread the word about their chozun experience.
Now, our upcoming ICO (Initial Coin Offering) is a great way for us to attract customers and brand advocates. We already have a product in market and now the ICO will enable potential customers and ICO investors to make the journey from bystander to advocate much more quickly than the traditional cycle, since they have a vested interest.
We are also working on some huge partnerships to allow other brands and companies to plug into our loyalty program and CZN.
We are working with a number of global and niche influencers, doing some really neat events and online activations we know haven’t been done yet. We can’t wait to share it with our existing and new customers.
Finally, we intend to keep listening to our customers, finding out what they want and endeavoring to delight them in each part of the customer journey. Long term—building our ecosystem and community will make it truly valuable and exciting will drive word-of-mouth growth.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
The reality of running a startup is something we feel isn’t spoken about enough. The biggest difficulties for us have been the times when we didn’t think we had enough runway to carry on (emotionally and financially).
We’ve needed to accept that we don’t know everything, and part of the journey is that we were, and are, always still learning.
We are always challenging ourselves with the question: “How are we going to continue to make this particular business a sustainable business?” We are making sure we always have that answer so we can keep pushing, progressing, and growing the business alongside our passionate team.
We started out with only our own savings and a small investment from SOSV through Chinaccelerator. Since then we have managed to expand to 22 cities, and we have created a sustainable model from which we can now enter the rapid growth stage.
The journey has been a tough one and will continue to be. However we’ve realized that to every challenge, there is an outcome that can drive us to a better solution.
How did you overcome these challenges?
We stopped over-anticipating outcomes. We listened to our data, realized that most decisions in a startup are temporary, and came to the realization that we need to be adaptable—in the market, in our environment, in the team, and in the overall working culture.
We have had incredible support from people—our network, our team, external stakeholders, and mentors. Surrounding yourself with the right people (personally and professionally) helps overcome any challenge.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
The power of having a strong team and strong team bond should not be understated. We lift each other up and really drive each other on. We try to balance ourselves through the tough times as well as the good. Within the team exists some relentless positivity.
We are also super driven to realize the vision of the company, and that doesn’t stop with where we are at, it’s much grander, all-encompassing and game-changing. We’re passionate, we believe in our vision and are super motivated to continue to grow our product and revolutionize travel.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
- First, we are very customer focused. We like to deliver the best experience possible, allowing them to take power back into their hands.
- Second, technology and the overall ecosystem we are currently building have the potential to be game-changing for the industry. We continually drive ourselves forward with the power of these two things in mind.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Winners focus on winning, losers focus on winners.
We are very much of the attitude that it’s okay to acknowledge the competition but not to dwell on them. Nobody else is inside your company like you are, and no one can drive your company forward like you can.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Remember your AQ, as well as your IQ, and EQ. AQ is your Adversity Quotient, and I think it’s as important a trait as the others in running a business. You are going to need resilience.
If that doesn’t come naturally there are ways to train yourself in resilience, and it’s an essential tool to have as an entrepreneur. And make sure you recognize emotional runway, not just financial.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
Airtable for organizing what upcoming events or speaking gigs there are. Blockfolio to check on my cryptos. And I’ve recently started using Accompany which combines my calendar with useful information on who I am connected with, meeting, or following, so I can see if there are crossovers and opportunities.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I used to read two books a week but have slipped on that lately. I think Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**K is the book I should have written—since that’s me naturally.
I’m also a massive geek so anything that tells the story behind science, math principles, or things like that excite me, so I also liked How the Hippies Saved Physics by David Kaiser.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
We’re all always learning, daily—from our customers, partners, and others in the industry. Our recent learnings have been centered around running an ICO, launching our cryptocurrency, and all the growth we can introduce to our company with blockchain tech.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Our goal is to release the next version of the product, improve our offering, and kick butt with our ICO, ensuring people see we are a real business with real value—we want to become the people’s travel company!
We already on the path to driving a lot of interest in our ICO, working with a great global team of advisors and marketers to achieve our funding target and bring the company to the next level.
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