Get Your Room on Airbnb, Use 500 Startups-Backed Vayable to See Sights with a Local

WHAT: Travelers can book tours with locals anywhere in the world for an "authentic" experience. Vayable [ @vayable ] allows locals to share their culture and make extra money. Focus is on San Francisco and New York.

LAUNCHER: Jamie Wong, CEO [ @jamiejwong, LinkedIn ].

INSPIRATION: "I have always been passionate about discovering new people and new places and sharing those stories," Jamie told LAUNCH via email. "After traveling to more than 30 countries and sharing local secrets in San Francisco and New York as an impromtu tour guide and journalist, I wanted to find a way to help people share their stories, but invite people to participate in them as I had."

BUSINESS MODEL: Commissions from all transactions and affiliate partnerships. Individuals offering tours pay 15% and travelers 3%. Guides get paid 24 hours after the tour start date.

COMPETITION: Large tour operators and activity and tour-aggregation sites (like recently launched Flextrip from TechStars Boulder -- see profile /blog/with-20k-listings-flextrip-takes-on-tours-another-travel-mar.html). Also services like Tripbod and GoGoBot, which give information and recommendations from locals.

CUSTOMERS/GROWTH: Not disclosing number of customers or tours booked, but Jamie says, "We have been enjoying up-and-to-the-right metrics since our launch less than four months ago."

ON VERIFYING GUIDE AND CUSTOMER IDENTITIES: Before they can sell a tour, prospective guides are interviewed in person or via Skype in addition to other verification measures, Jamie says. Also identity verification on the traveler side and protected communication prior to booking.

"Airbnb is now leading the way with some very robust safety features, so I feel fortunate that we can learn from their successes as well as their failures and all of us be better for it moving forward," Jamie says.

INVESTORS: 500 Startups, Dave McClure, and "other influential angels."

RAISING:  Not disclosing.

Tours include everything from bike tours and horse riding to art tours and eco farms. They range in length from one hour to a few days price and from $30 or $40 to thousands.

Tour profiles give the logistics, who the tour is for, some info about the guide and user reviews.