A Q&A with Mr. Arlo co-founder and CPO Chuck Job Lang. The Atlanta–based company was founded in 2011 and its platform just launched to the public.
SUB: Please describe Mr. Arlo and your value proposition.
Lang: Mr. Arlo is like that friend you have who not only knows you really well and knows what you like but also has great recommendations on places to stay, things to see, restaurants to check out and fun activities that you’ll love. He asks you questions to get to know you, and then learns what your social media connections like and what they recommend for you. Then, Mr. Arlo provides you these recommendations to book in an easy to navigate, beautiful and aspirational site. The itinerary is held and paid for all in one place so you don’t have to visit hundreds of different sites – saving time and frustration.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Lang: Mr. Arlo is for anyone who loves to travel but is frustrated by booking it online and is looking for a new solution to book travel while on the go. Mr. Arlo is also a place for people to dream about their next trip and get excited about online booking again.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Lang: Mr. Arlo is totally unique in the industry but if we have any competition it is the existing travel booking sites.
SUB: What differentiates Mr. Arlo from the competition?
Lang: Mr. Arlo is the first travel site of its kind. On traditional travel booking sites like Expedia, Orbitz, etc., you are presented with thousands and thousands of results. On Mr. Arlo, we only show results that matter to you—a hotel that your friend likes, a restaurant that your sister ate at and even an activity that your best friends did last year on their honeymoon. But we don’t stop there—our results are highly visual and early user feedback suggests that our customers envision their trip before ever stepping out the door. We also offer experiential content—things like city information, what’s the best way to get around by car, by foot, by bus and what the weather’s like this time of year for that particular city.
SUB: When was the company founded?
Lang: The company was founded March, 2011.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Mr. Arlo? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Lang: My wife was booking a girls’ trip to Chicago. She had disappeared with the computer for two hours before I went to track her down. I found her frustrated and the whole excitement of the trip fading fast. She wanted to book a hotel, a restaurant and a play, but had had to go to so many sites to do this that she pretty much gave up on the whole trip. I thought that she needed a single site that would point her to things that she liked, gave her the options to select them or make reservations, pay for it in all one place and then have an itinerary on the page. I brought this idea to Keehln Wheeler who runs a digital agency, MaxMedia, and he agreed—so we did it.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Lang: We were looking for a unique name, something that users could relate to and learn to trust. My nephew is named Arlo and as an homage to him, we named the site Mr. Arlo.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Lang: Actually knowing when the appropriate time to ship the product. We struggled with features and content because we knew the enormous fight we had ahead—think of David and Goliath: Mr. Arlo against the big OTAs.
SUB: You just launched to the public. Why was this a particularly good time to launch?
Lang: The winter months are a great time to start dreaming about warm weather, skiing or visiting the family for holidays. Mr. Arlo is presenting at PhoCusWright’s Travel Innovations Summit and so launching around this time is ideal.
SUB: Have you raised outside funding to this point? If not, do you plan to in the near future?
Lang: The founders initially provided Seed funding to start the business. After pitching our idea to business people around Atlanta, the business concept was so compelling and unique, that Angel investors lined up $650K in Series A funding even before any technology could be built—a bit unusual in the startup world.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Lang: Mr. Arlo will generate revenues from commissions and marketing fees earned from suppliers of hotels, cars, activities and other products in the retail marketplace, as well as technology transaction fees from business clients.
SUB: What are your goals for Mr. Arlo over the next year or so?
Lang: One: we will also offer consumers a myriad of products including flights, cars, sport tickets, tee times, and our most exciting addition—experiential content from travel bloggers all over the world. With this, Mr. Arlo becomes your guide before, during and after your trip. Two: native mobile apps for iPhone, iPad and Android—then other devices to follow. Three: we are building additional connectivity to existing travel booking sites and apps to obtain additional travel profile preferences and details.
Mr Arlo – www.mrarlo.com