Becoming a RoadGoat with Kurosh Hashemi
Immersive, personalized travel is something many digital nomads and remote workers crave: you want to explore off the beaten path but may not always know where to start. That’s where RoadGoat comes in, the Yelp for finding the best travel destinations for your preferences.
Created as a side-project by Kurosh Hashemi to solve the problem of finding awesome travel destinations, RoadGoat has a data base of more than 4 million cities and serves users all over the world.
We were able to chat with Kurosh about what it means to be a RoadGoat, the challenging journey of starting a tech company, and so much more.
First, tell us about Roadgoat and how it can help the frequent traveler?
RoadGoat is kind of like a Yelp for travel destinations. For example, if you say you're looking for a destination in New Jersey with a beach and a good music scene, it might recommend Ashbury Park, New Jersey. But if you were to say a weekend destination at the beach and great architecture, it might suggest Cape May or Miami Beach. You can build your profile by checking into cities and countries or bookmark them and you can import everywhere you've been via Facebook, Instagram, Fitbit, TripIt, and more.
What is a road goat? Is that a saying?
Well our RoadGoat definitely isn't the same as Urban Dictionary's! We like to think of a RoadGoat as a road warrior, but more goofy, whimsical, and sometimes a little crazy-eyed. One could argue that the RoadGoat is striving to be the Greatest Of All Time when it comes to road trips.
Tell us about the idea’s inception and how you and your current team brought it to a reality.
I love to travel. I thought there was a major pain point in guiding people to awesome travel destinations. And I started working on RoadGoat as a side-project but after a lot of encouragement from our beta testers, decided to push it out to the rest of the world.
What’s something no one really gives advice about when starting your own tech company?
How to solve the chicken and egg problem — building a team and product before you have gone through fundraising. To build a great product, you need great people, which takes money. But without a great product, it's very difficult to secure funding.
What intrigues you about location data?
What I like most is the challenge of it. Location data is some of the most ubiquitous data on the web, however there's no universal way of organizing it. Each country, state, or even county has its own system of defining places. Many locations are informally defined, such as neighborhoods, regions, or unincorporated towns. This makes it extremely hard, even for companies such as Google, to make sense of all the locations. Sorry if this is a super boring answer because I'm a geography geek!
How many cities can Roadgoat recommend?
Our database has more than 4 million cities. And we’re now up to 46k visits.
Where do you get your location information?
Most user travels have been added via our integrations with Fitbit, Foursquare, Instagram, and Facebook. It's just so much easier to import travels than recreate them - integrating with our great partners has really helped RoadGoat gallop ahead.
Have you always considered yourself entrepreneurial?
Yes and no. I was more of a corporate guy for most of my career, but I was always working on building new ventures at the companies that I worked for. My biggest project was launching Lumileds's Ultraviolet LED business. That business, which was bought by private equity firm Apollo Management, has placed ultraviolet LED's in a variety of applications including medical and scientific devices, crime analysis, printing, and even entertainment lighting. It also became the most profitable division of our company.
What’s been your favorite place to travel? What do you always make sure to check out when you travel?
The Greek Islands have a little bit of everything I love: natural beauty, architecture, great food, and the sea. I'm always on the hunt for waterfalls, authentic local eats, and of course cute goats.
What are your favorite travel tools?
Without a doubt, I would be lost without Google Maps. However I've curated a list of all my favorite travel tools here.
What’s next for Roadgoat?
We're building richer content for each place's page! You'll be able to see which articles places are mentioned in and what personality traits they're tagged with. We're going to build a mobile app. And from there we'll try to integrate with every device the internet will let us connect with - from all your wearables to your connected cars.