Today, 1st of Feb 2015, it is 50 days since we opened the doors of walkinto.in to the world. These 50 days were encouraging, challenging, tiring, sleepless and yet satisfying. Today when I see two hundred users creating content on WalkInto, more than 600 publicly shared virtual tours, products and services around the world offered with WalkInto as the platform, long term partnerships and alliances getting forged, users counting us as friends, I see a journey well started. Today we make a promise to never let our customers down, never lower our standards of support or product quality, never to stop listening to our users and never to stop innovating to make details better.
Yesterday I received this long email from a user in Berlin. It listed a dozen ways to make the editor better. Painstakingly illustrated with screenshots, annotations and reasoning in sections. Reading that email gave me goosebumps. With users who care so deeply for a product we just cannot make too many mistakes. They will course correct us through their own methods. All we need to do now is to be honest to ourselves in delivering quality week after week.
Why did we make WalkInto?
I am also a founder of golocl. It is a Google Business Views partner in India. We go to local businesses and ask them to pay us a fee to shoot their virtual tours and publish it on Google Maps. This is a great tool for small businesses. But for larger premises this tour alone is next to useless because there is no easy navigation structure. This pained us and caused a lot of lost business. We decided to fix this problem through engineering. When we realized the problem is global we knew the solution should be global. Hence WalkInto was born as a Delaware corporation in early 2014. We put together an engineering team, outsourced some work and got it all done in 3–4 months. Golocl now sells WalkInto tours as a service and it is doing good too.
Who should use WalkInto?
Google Business View Photographers
Every Google Trusted Individual Photographer (TIPs) should use WalkInto today. You can deliver better value for your work. Your customers will love your tour more with navigation, hotspots, rotation, social sharing, voice controls, thumbnail menu, nice themes and more. You get to charge your customers real money for the real value you will deliver. Especially for those Business Views customers who do the VT as a digital asset that they want to embed into their website or share on social media there is no excuse for not giving WalkInto to them today. Furthermore, with Google Analytics integration showing ROI has never been easier. Did you know that an average WalkInto visitor walks around the tour for more than 5 minutes per session?
If you don’t give this all to your customer someone else will — because the moment you publish a See Inside on Google Maps it is a free to use digital asset for everyone. So don’t lose an opportunity to deliver value and engage with your customer long term.
Other Photographers on Google Views
If you love creating Photospheres and publishing it on Google Maps through the Views platform you must consider using WalkInto today. Because we know you are passionate about what you do at Google Views and we believe WalkInto just augments your ability to tell the story exactly the way you want it to. You can add narration, popup information, menu navgation and everything else you miss at Google Views. You can also collaborate with other publishers at Google Views platform to use each other’s content to tell even more powerful stories. See some examples here.
Read the user testimonials.Oxford by Bernd Kronmueller
If you are a travel blogger, restaurant reviewer, real estate writer, city blogger, event planner- WalkInto has something that would make sense for you. Honestly it is beyond me to predict all use cases. We have built a platform of possibilities and every day we get amazed by something unexpected and creative.
If you build it they will come.
WalkInto does not charge anything to its users in 2015. Our reasoning is this. The product is far from feature complete. Everything we have released works. But we have a lot to release yet.
We rolled it out in late Dec 2014 and engaged everyday with users who joined WalkInto. We asked questions, heard every question they asked, brainstormed on direction and feedback and every week implement something better. The brand we established in a short time is this — we care for our customers. We are so happy that our users care every bit back. We hold monthly town hall meetings on Google Hangout to to learn from our users. We hold weekly hangouts with power users to hear their thoughts on how we can improve. 2015, we will make WalkInto. We are making it with you. Giving it free is just our way of saying thank you.
From 2016 we plan to charge a flat annual fee for licensing a tour. Licensed tours will not have advertisements. Other, we might insert ads to cover our costs. A general concensus on this flat fee is a nominal US$30 per tour. There are a lot of interesting plans around using WalkInto as a platform. These are still early stages for this product.
Or competition is real and solid. On the products used by Google TIPs we compete with Tourdash and Tourmake. Both are ahead of WalkInto in terms of features, maturity and user base. Purely in terms of web visitors, WalkInto will surpass both Tourdash and Tourmake in Feb 2015.
http://www.similarweb.com/website/live.tourdash.com (50K visits)
http://www.similarweb.com/website/walkinto.in (40K Visits)
http://www.similarweb.com/website/tourmake.it (35k visits)
As of end of January, we are already ahead of Tourmake and about 20% short of Tourdash. This metric alone does not mean much. What we need is users and features that our users want. On the same segment there is Roomview.co.uk. We do not know a lot about this product yet.
On recreational story telling segment, we compete with Round.me, and Spinattic. Both are ahead of us because they support panorama upload and has excellent social features that encourages users to connect and colaborate. But we are working hard to catch up first on feature gap.
The road ahead
This is where I am asking you to take a walk with me. Since you read this long story so far I am guessing you sort of like WalkInto.
Try us. Join today (If you have a Gmail or a Google Apps account you can just login to WalkInto. No forms to fill in!). Make a tour or two. Throw us a challenge with something you found frustrating. Then watch how swiftly and efficiently your wishes comes true on WalkInto. That my friend is the road ahead for you and me. We can partner, learn from each other, use WalkInto and help us make it better. What ever is the personal reason why you want to use WalkInto, my promise to you is that we will support you every step of the way.
WalkInto will never cease to innovate, never let a deadline miss or never let a user down. We might make errors but will not refuse to correct it. We will boldly experiment with features but will never let useless bloat the product.
Take a walk with me! Thank you!
Some links to WalkInto tours in Action
Hotel van Walsum, Roterdam, Netherlands
Coldwell Bankers (Panama city Beach)
Tour of Lille, France (New Website on WalkInto)
Café Belles Roses, Czech Republic
LA CITÉ des échange, France
Ferbers Restaurant, Germany
And Beyond — A premium travel network
Gold Beach Hotel, Lecce,Italia
Paymasters Restaurant, Australia