LOS ANGELES, Sept. 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Welcome, the only personalized city guide powered by friends and experts, and made smart by a real-time AI, announced its official launch out of Beta in addition to $3.5M in seed funding led by Accel with participation from Lakestar Ventures. This round brings total funding to $4.2 Million.
Founded by multi-time founder and entrepreneur Matthew Rosenberg, along with Peter Gerard, Mark Armendariz, and Mark Essel, the team previously co-founded an Apple award-winning mobile video editing platform, Cameo, which was acquired by Vimeo.
Welcome’s app utilizes real time search: A proprietary context-driven discovery mode that considers dozens of data points to make the most relevant and personalized recommendations in the exact moment the user opens the app.
The user-friendly interface combines the utility of a maps/location app with an immersive, social experience that allows users to see smart, custom suggestions alongside access to friends’ recommendations and lists. Welcome also aggregates relevant articles and reviews from trusted travel and lifestyle sites and respected brands in real time. Its powerful algorithms prioritize local, owner-operated businesses that capture the unique culture and spirit of a city, street, or neighborhood. Its search even takes into account factors such as weather, time of day, user preferences and habits, and local holidays.
"How do we get our eyes off our phones and back on life? The vision for Welcome began during a frustrating travel experience. I wanted to experience the best of each new city, but it was impossible to curate an authentic experience in a place that I knew nothing about. Most of what I found was advertised placements on mainstream search platforms," explains Rosenberg.
"Welcome’s real-time recommendations are based on your interests and the people you trust. It’s a data-backed decision machine with the heart of your most well-traveled friend. It wipes out the fluff so you instantly find everything you’d want to know about local hidden gems that align with your values."
Welcome has utilized data from over 50,000 Beta users in more than 350 global cities. There are over 6.5 million places in Welcome’s database, and quickly growing, with more than 300,000 curated recommendations from around the world. Welcome’s "Street Teams" create custom video content to enhance the app experience and are unique to the app. Street Teams are currently located in New York City, Austin, and Miami and will soon be expanding to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, and Nashville. International growth is also on the near-term roadmap.
"Current travel and review apps are far behind in the level of sophistication we’ve reached in other areas, including design and underlying technology," said Sameer Gandhi, Partner at Accel. "Welcome was able to do it all: offer engaging user experiences and AI capabilities, as well as a robust search and recommendation function. It’s exactly the next-generation experience we’ve been hoping to find for years, and we’re excited to partner with the team at Welcome."
How it Works
- Welcome brings all the information users need together in one unified, comprehensive page. Each place recommendation includes logistics (hours, directions, amenities); reasons to visit (affinity score, reasons); vetted reviews (from other users, publications); and next steps (save it, like it, make a reservation).
- Welcome makes recommendations based on users’ interests and learns about them over time through interactions in the app. Every recommendation has an affinity score, which illustrates how aligned it is with the user’s interests, and lists the reasons why each place was chosen.
- The app collects users’ Likes and Saves so they can easily access their lists, friends’ lists, and influencers’ lists through the profile page. With one click, Welcome seamlessly imports place lists from articles, links, and other social platforms to save in one convenient place.
- Many place recommendations will be accompanied by an immersive video created by the street team so users can see what a place is truly like before going. This next-generation experience in search gives users a transparent, unadulterated view of a place.
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