Exploring the unknown is part of the excitement of travelling, be it to a new city, province or country. While roaming unfamiliar streets, soaking up the atmosphere and listening to the music of a new language is fun. There are moments where you wished you had trawled the internet a bit better so you did not end up spending a lot of money on a dingy hotel room or a mediocre dinner. How easy would it be if you were able to ask someone who actually lives there for some advice?
Well, now you can. AskNative, an app developed by Egyptian entrepreneur Menem Ragab and his team allows you to ask all your questions and receive answers from locals that share their insider knowledge with you.
AskNative was conceived when Ragab was living in Sweden as an exchange student. “I was a workaholic and spent most of my time in the lab where I was working on a nanotechnology project. As my time in Stockholm started to come to an end I realised I knew nothing about the city and the culture I had lived in for all these months so I decided to stay a little longer and explore the city,” he said. “I asked around the lab for recommendations on where to go and people shared their knowledge with me and told me about the hidden gems that are very hard to find if you do not know the city.” Realising how valuable this advice was Ragab thought this would be a service that other travellers would appreciate too.
“I would like to see AskNative grow into a Wikipedia for language and culture,” Ragab said.
After returning to Cairo Ragab initiated some market research and realised AskNative was a viable business opportunity. “We started developing the app and we decided we did not want to launch until it functioned well. However, I kept over-thinking it and at some point we had to say it is good enough now, let’s launch,” he said. AskNative was launched in a basic version and accepted by Apple to be included in the App Store.
The initial reaction was very positive and the app was downloaded by people from all over the world, while several industry blogs and publications wrote about AskNative. “The first version was still quite basic and we did not make a lot of noise, we just wanted to see what the reaction would be. Luckily the response was very positive and we continued to develop the app,” Ragab said.
What started as a one-man show has since grown into a fulltime job for Ragab and the team of five that works with him, and they have big plans for the future. “I would like to reach a million users in 2013, have ten million questions and tips featured on AskNative, and add two more apps related to travel and adventure to our portfolio,” Ragab said.
AskNative allows users to ask the questions that only a local can answer and compile all the information they need for their trip. The latest and full version of AskNative was launched a few days ago and is available to download for free.