By Dave Yanko
“People today are prioritizing experiences over stuff.”
That muse-worthy quote comes from Kirk Morrison, co-founder and chief executive officer of Krugo, a new travel app developed by his Regina firm of the same name. Krugo is designed to help individuals or groups plan, organize, and book flights, accommodations, shows, concerts, sports events, festivals, restaurant reservations—even tee times and transportation—all through one app on a mobile device. Krugo can show a user all significant events happening at any given destination at any date scheduled, or it can use your travel and entertainment preferences to propose getaways to cities where, say, your favourite sports team and musical act are playing on the same weekend.
“We like to say Krugo is like that friend who’s always pitching you on ideas for stuff to do, like ‘we gotta go to that new restaurant’ or ‘look at these amazing ticket deals I found,’” says Morrison. “He’s the kind of friend who’s hard to say ‘no’ to because you know you’ll never regret it, even,” he adds with a chuckle, “if it’s a little irresponsible at the time.”
Krugo launched quietly earlier this year and is garnering enthusiastic feedback from a growing base of mostly Prairie users who discovered it on their own or by word-of-mouth. While the company aims to initiate a focused marketing campaign after adding new features and expanded functionality in weeks ahead, Morrison says Krugo is operational in its current version.
The company employs 10 full and part-time staff working out of Cultivator, an incubator sponsored by Conexus Credit Union. It operates in partnerships with companies such as Booking.com and Vivid Seats to provide products and services at no additional cost to Krugo users. The app is a free download for iPhone and Android—the company earns revenue from commissions paid by its partners. Morrison says Krugo received funding from the recently established Saskatchewan Technology Startup Incentive program that offers tax incentives to investors. In time, paid subscription services and advertising will add to Krugo’s revenue streams, he says.
The idea for Krugo evolved over time. When Morrison and his friends were younger with fewer responsibilities, they enjoyed going on sports road trips and often tried to find additional events to punch up the entertainment value of their trip. But it wasn’t easy.
“You had to do what I call ’10-tab trip planning’ because you needed 10 browser windows open to find out about a hockey team and what’s going on at the local concert venue and all that kind of stuff. I realized there was no place online that aggregates all these elements and helps me sift through all the stuff that maybe I’m not interested in, to get to the stuff that I am.”
While Krugo is an effective trip-planning app for individual travellers, its group itinerary planner is one of its most powerful features, says Morrison. “Everything on Krugo is made to be shared with a group of people. You can create groups with the app and build a shared itinerary to schedule events, dinners and lunches, or whatever else you might be looking to coordinate with a group of people.” A good application might be a bachelor or bachelorette party, he says, although two or three couples also could use Krugo to plan and organize a big-city getaway for a long weekend.
Morrison, who founded Krugo with friend Andrew Cretin, is excited about plans to extend Krugo’s capacity to include far more and varied events. Currently, some 130,000 events, primarily in North America, reside in the app’s inventory. But he says his company is negotiating with partners to add new events that will significantly expand that number and eventually accommodate a wider variety of interests. “We’ll be able to integrate food and wine shows, for instance. Really, anything a person might be interested in.”
Now that accommodation and flight apps have proliferated across the web, “experience” is the focus in the travel space and a great deal of money is being invested in the sector, says Morrison. There’s a good deal of venture financing going to companies offering tours, activities and unique experiences. “But what we really haven’t seen is someone offering live event information, and we think we can really do that well.”
He also thinks Saskatchewan is the perfect place for Krugo to flourish.
“We’ve been able to attract a young and hungry team that’s interested in working on this project. We’ve had good support from the community, and government incentive programs have been really helpful. I think it’s been a huge advantage being in Saskatchewan.”
Learn more about Krugo by visiting www.krugoapp.com.