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inside innovation

WAYN which stands for Where Are You Now, is a social networking site built around travel. WAYN allows you to visualize your friends on the world map and track their whereabouts.Started by Peter Ward, Jerome Touze and Mike Lines in 2003, the company was bootstrapped for two years and the founders remained at their full-time jobs to support themselves. took off shortly after its launch and the site grew from 45,000 members to 1 million in just 6 months. Peter and Jerome attribute the growth to the fact that users could easily invite their friends and the networking effect of having a growing userbase.

Unlike other social networking sites, WAYN was a subscription-based business where users had to pay for some of the site’s features. By keeping the costs down (e.g. by outsourcing all operations to Poland), WAYN was able to achieve profitability through its subscription cash flow.

To take things to the next level however, WAYN decided to change its strategy and to make all core functionality free. This move immediately paid off and traffic tripled in less than one month. WAYN also raised $11m in Series A funding in order to support its growth and bring a number of experienced entrepreneurs on board as advisors.

Today, WAYN is approaching 10 million members and is reinventing its business model by integrating commercial travel features into its social network site.

Peter Ward’s parting words of advice were “stop talking about it and get on with it” whilst Jerome Touze recommended to “stay focused on the core business.”

P.S. Apologies about the occasional noise during the interview, this is due to a faulty mic.

… stay tuned…

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