Strong start has SA’s Gummie aiming high

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South African startup Gummie, a curated online marketplace for travel adventures, is planning expansion across South Africa and into other African countries following an impressive start following its launch in December last year.

Ksenia Mardina, founder of Gummie, told Disrupt Africa the platform, which handpicks tours and adventure activities around Cape Town and Johannesburg, was setting itself apart from the competition by targeting millennials, or people between the ages of 20 and 35.

“We’re pretty much the first startup to target this audience. Our competitors cater for an older crowd,” Mardina said.

Gummie offers around 30 tours at once, and is receiving around 1,000 unique visitors per month and around 40 bookings. The startup makes money by charging a 15 per cent fee on every tour booked.

It further attempts to broaden its appeal through its team of “superguides”, celebrity travellers users are able to book activities with, including mountaineer Kai Fitchen and four-time South African kiteboarding champion Oswald Smith. Mardina said Gummie had expansion plans, which it was looking for funding in order to put into place.

“Our main goal is to get into every single little town in South Africa, because that is where the problem arises,” she said.

“Our big vision is to penetrate African markets and to expand into the main tourist markets, places like Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Botswana. Africa is getting more popular among millennials but it is very expensive and very difficult to make your way. Nobody likes working with travel agents anymore, they are not trustworthy.”

She said for tourists that knew what they wanted to do in a place, booking was easy as they only needed to search for the details. “But the problem is if you don’t know,” Mardina said.

The startup is also planning on extending its backend in order to turn itself into the “Airbnb for tour guides” and allow tour operators to publish their own offers on the site.

“We currently have a very small team so it is hard to cover every town,” Mardina said. “We’re not looking for a large amount of money so much as a strategic partner.”

Gummie is aimed just as much at local South African tourists as international travellers.

“South Africans that travel in South Africa want to do cool things. So we target both foreigners and locals. Our main concept is to inspire travellers,” Mardina said.

“I was actually amazed by how our audience meets our expectations 100 per cent. We speak their language, we are millenials ourselves.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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