Overview of SeaTour
Interview With Tyshaun Pickett
Describe your product or service:
“SeaTour is a mobile application designed to enhance the experience of tourism in the Caribbean. The primary focus of SeaTour is to provide Caribbean travelers with valuable information and content tailored specifically to their resort of stay. The platform has been constructed with the main focal points centering around dining, excursions, and local experiences.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Many travelers spend countless hours when they arrive at their resort trying to find out relevant information that can provide their vacations with excitement and fulfillment. The problem with this is that there is a lack of on-demand information for travelers when they visit resorts and hotels throughout the Caribbean to help them achieve this goal. SeaTour gives the traveler all the information they need to give them full empowerment to create their own vacation experience.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“I am the founder of SeaTour, and my name is Tyshaun Pickett. I am a 28-year-old entrepreneur working in the world of private equity. Growing up in the city of Newark, New Jersey, I always had dreams of traveling the world and seeing all it has to offer. This led me to travel to Africa for a few months back in 2015, which led to the inspiration and creation of SeaTour. I currently lead the company by myself, but I have a team of engineers that work with me to create and manage the app.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I knew since I was a child, I wanted to create something useful for people and give it to the world, but I was not sure what it would be. Growing up in Newark as a child, it is hard to see past the environment of poverty, and every day is built on survival. My mother was a single parent, and I watched her struggle to make ends meet. At the time, the city lacked opportunity and resources, so I knew long term I would have to be able to do something to be able to sustain a life for myself and break free of the chains that this environment had on us. I think these thoughts and experiences always pushed me toward the space of entrepreneurship because I would be able to live and do things on my own terms.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“The idea for SeaTour came about from the first time I ever left the country in 2015 while I was in college and went for a study abroad experience on the East Coast of Africa (Tanzania/Zanzibar). We stayed in Africa for a little over two months to work on a sustainable entrepreneurship project where we worked with coastal tourism operators to help them build more sustainable business practices, provide them with information to keep them from negatively impacting the environment with their business practices and to improve revenue generation and experiences for tourists. This was an eye-opening experience because while I was there, the team and I were looking for a place for dinner and drinks on a Friday night, but we did not know where to go. After talking to countless locals and hotel staff, we ended up at this restaurant named 6 Degrees South in Zanzibar, and it was by far one of the best dining experiences I ever had.
Once I had got back to the states, I kept thinking about how great an experience that restaurant was but also the fact that most tourists visiting there will probably never get to experience it since the restaurant at the time had low visibility to online search and it was more so a word-of-mouth place, so you would have to repeat the process we did of talking to the locals to find out about it. It just clicked at that moment where I knew many tourists would like to have this information on demand when they got to their resort on the island.
After this, I began to travel the world more, especially in the Caribbean, and it was the same thing again. I found these great restaurants and experiences, but I had to spend so much time meeting and talking to people and resort staff to get the information on the best excursions, dining, and locals, experiences, places to visit, etc. I began to talk with people I know who are frequent travelers and other people I met during my travels and asked them would they find value in a service that can provide them with this type of information on demand for them at their resort of stay and they all said yes and that they would even be willing to pay to have something like this. This was the point when I realized I was on to something. From this point, I spent a few months finding the right team of engineers that can help me build this idea, and a year and a half later, we have a working mobile application in both the Apple and Android store.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“Originally, the company was named TourBand (Tourist Band) because I wanted this to be a wearable device, but after realizing the astounding costs to make this product a reality, I realized the best way for me to make this happen is to start out as a software service. I needed a name that represented the feeling of traveling the world by seaside, seeing the ocean, feeling the Caribbean sun, and really being immersed in a vacation/tourism experience, and I came up with the name ‘SeaTour’ because it gave me the ‘tourist of the sea’ feel, which is a feeling I think most travelers have when they visit a great Caribbean resort.”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“The biggest challenge honestly was figuring out where to start but also figuring out the things I don’t know about building a business and product. I am a big audiobook person, so I downloaded tons of audiobooks that speak about the basics of entrepreneurship and the strategies of highly successful individuals in the world of business. Growing up in Newark, most of us were not fortunate enough to have grown up around or even know successful business owners, so for me, this was a whole new world to learn. I began to follow stories of very successful entrepreneurs, looking at who they got started and where they are now, learning from their mistakes, pitfalls, and other [adversity] they faced along the way. I also examined the good from their stories, understanding the good choices they made along the way. For me, these were all building blocks that allowed me to get up and get started building SeaTour and also gave me inspiration to become [a] co-owner of another startup company.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“SeaTour is a mobile application designed to enhance the experience of tourism in the Caribbean. The primary focus of SeaTour is to provide Caribbean travelers with valuable information and content tailored specifically to their resort of stay. The platform has been constructed with the main focal points centering around: dining, excursions, local experiences, and resort information (spa services, concierge, activities, amenities, etc.) Many travelers spend countless hours when they arrive at their resort trying to find out relevant information that can provide their vacations with excitement and fulfillment. The problem with this is that there is a lack of on-demand information for travelers when they visit resorts and hotels throughout the Caribbean to help them achieve this goal. SeaTour gives the traveler all the information they need to give them full control to create their own vacation experience.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“We plan to build strategic partnerships with resorts in the Caribbean to build a pilot for the app which will allow us to directly provide our services to tourists.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“We are still pre-launch, so we do not have active users yet. However, we will be getting our first 100 customers when we build our pilot program for the app.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Active users, users charged for app access, and how many strategic partnerships we build.”
What's your favorite book on entrepreneurship?
“‘How To Be The Startup Hero’ by Tim Draper, ‘Lost and Founder’ by Rand Fishkin, ‘Contagious’ by Jonah Berger, [and] ‘The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing’ by Al Ries/Jack Trout.”
What is your favorite startup or business podcast?
“‘How I Built This’ [from] NPR.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“How hard it is to raise your first seed round of funding.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“I try to dedicate set hours before or after work for myself to work on goals for the business.”
How do you stay motivated?
“I think that at any moment, I can go back to living in poverty, and the thought of that keeps me going. I also understand that I am a motivation to many people in my life, so I feel like I have to keep going in order to be the role model they need. Leaving a legacy behind is important to me, so this keeps me going.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
- “Treat everyone with respect
- Be the change you want to see in the world
- Study the habits of successful people
- Read a LOT
- Always be open to learning something new
- Be your own researcher
- Learn how to attract those that are more skilled than you about an area you need help with
- Always give back to those in need”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
“Having zero experience with coding but not letting that stop me from building SeaTour.”
More on SeaTour
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Tyshaun Pickett, founder of travel startup SeaTour, that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.