Embargoed Until Am 28th February 2007
Howzat Media Invests In Third Web 2.0 Start-Up: Trustedplaces.Com & Takes Board Seat
Pioneering word of mouth network for restaurants, bars, cafes and places of character
Howzat media LLP ("HOWZAT"), the investment vehicle for start-up and early stage dotcom companies, recently launched by successful internet entrepreneurs Hugo Burge and David Soskin from Cheapflights.co.uk, has today completed its third investment, namely in UK start-up dotcom TrustedPlaces ("TrustedPlaces"). Howzat have provided angel funding of £500,000 (US$980,000) and Hugo Burge will be taking a place on the Board of TrustedPlaces.
London based TrustedPlaces is a next generation reviews and social networking website focussed on recommended places to socialise, eat and drink. The site allows discerning urbanites to share opinions on places that they know, trust and recommend - or to flag spots to avoid.
TrustedPlaces is the online answer to knowing just where to go and what to do locally.
The site is especially useful if you are new in an area, a visiting tourist or tracking down the latest cool places to be seen at. Whether clubbing, eating out, or drinking and relaxing, TrustedPlaces.com is about finding out where other people like you, and with similar tastes, like to hang out in their leisure time.
‘Taste-matching’ is a unique functionality on TrustedPlaces. A user is able to assess site content by easily seeing how closely their tastes are to those who created the content. This is done through a simple and fun game, the Taste Finder. Here, new and existing users are asked to rate their preference for a number of areas such as food, drink, places and people. This tool ensures that a new user who takes the "Taste Finder" test on the site ends up with recommendations that they can relate to.
TrustedPlaces, powered by its taste matching technology, is the closest thing to being shown around a new place by a friend from there who knows exactly what you like to eat, do or listen to.
Apart from connecting users with people they already know or making new friends that share the same interests as them, other site features include: ‘People Who Liked This Also Liked’; ‘Cool Places Nearby’ and ‘Top Places of the Week’. These tools allow discovery of recommended places based on social and, geographical criteria and also through (with less technical wizardry) the TrustedPlaces' ‘Editor's special picks of the week’.
TrustedPlaces helps bring the urban landscape to life, allowing people to find and share places that have special personal appeal, character and individuality. In short, this is a new resource to find great and recommended alternatives to the increasingly homogenous and samey chains that make cities the same the world over. TrustedPlaces is an internet word of mouth revolution.
Commenting, HOWZAT Co-founder Hugo Burge said: "Trusted Places founding-duo, Sokratis Papfloratos (CEO) and Walid Al Saqqaf (COO) are genuine pioneers with an amazing vision of the website they are building. Not only does TrustedPlaces let consumers share reviews and communicate but it also uses using intelligent filtering techniques to personalise the results.. TrustedPlaces.com starts to define the future direction of social networking and user generated content. It also helps you to find unusual and independent places in a landscape of increasingly similar restaurants and bars." Hugo added: "TrustedPlaces exemplifies the type of dotcom we aspire to invest in and it is an honour to be invited to join their team as an investor and as a member of their Board. Sokratis and Walid have a passionate vision about creating a vibrant community that will share its collective knowledge about where to eat, drink and hang-out. They have created an original website, launched only last year, on a shoestring and it is exciting to be involved in the next stage of their development. HOWZAT shares their belief in the huge potential for the site and is delighted to be involved with Trusted Places at this early stage."
TrustedPlaces' CEO Sokratis Papaflorator said: "Today marks a hugely important day for us. The funding allows us to press ahead with further product development, delivering a truly innovative service. Hugo’s and Howzat’s expertise will be a tremendous help in expanding our growth and reach. Cheapflights is one of the leading online businesses in the UK, with great success at home and abroad. In partnership, it's a success we want to emulate - we’re all very excited about working together and taking TrustedPlaces to the next level."
HOWZAT media LLP
Hugo Burge and David Soskin, respectively Vice-Chairman & Head of International, and CEO of long-established UK dotcom Cheapflights Ltd., recently lead a small group of private investors in launching a specialist Internet investment fund, HOWZAT media LLP ("HOWZAT") Apart from their funding, investee companies will benefit from Hugo and David’s operational experience gained from building one of the UK's most successful, profitable and long-lived dotcom companies.
Launched with an initial US$10 million investment, the new fund has a clearly defined focus: To identify and invest in start-up and early-stage internet media companies which are reinventing the way in which consumers access and use online information. It will seek out global opportunities in Internet media, including, but not exclusively, in the travel sector. This investment profile reflects Cheapflights' own successful business model. Hugo and David will be using their unique experience growing Cheapflights to drive the success of HOWZAT and its underlying investments.
HOWZAT (howzatmedia.com) recently made its first investment alongside a syndicate of investors brought together in an $11m Series 'A' Funding, led by Esprit Capital Partners, in Where Are You Now? ("WAYN") the world’s largest travel and lifestyle social network. It has since invested in UK start-up Zoomf an exciting new London residential property vertical search and information site.