Gainesville, FL – April 24, 2016 Livingua’s new mobile app has graduated from the beta testing stage and to the official launch! Designed to make travel a rewarding experience, Livingua’s co-founders have developed a mobile app that will undoubtedly become a traveler’s best friend. Puerto Rico is the app’s first destination, soon to be followed by other destinations.
Livingua was born out of a desire to help travelers experience the authentic side of their destinations by not having to rely on the standard advertised locations for lodging, eating, touring, etc. The app is savvy to the issues of exploring the “local” favorites, language barriers and the general issue of who to trust for recommendations and/or directions. Livingua solves those issues by connecting travelers with trusted, handpicked locals, known as “Livinguers” in real-time and on-demand as needed.
Ahmed Hemeid, Ismail Abushamma and Victor Borsche, who originally met while students at the University of Florida, joined forces to create Livingua. According to Borsche, “The idea was born from personal travel experiences. We all went to international high schools with people from very different countries where we developed local friends who would tell us what to do and show us around while giving us all the inside scoop.”
Puerto Rico is the first location to launch. The co-founders literally moved to Puerto in March of 2016 where they conducted over 150 interviews in search of local guides. The best of the best were recruited, certified and vetted over a period of three weeks. The idea caught on and soon HomeAway managers, tour operators and Join a Join (a service that lists, finds and books things to do and places to stay) began supporting and promoting Livingua.
Here’s how Livingua works:
- Download the free app “Livingua” from the AppStore
- Choose your destination (currently Puerto Rico – more to be added soon)
- Choose your question and opt to be answered by email ($1.99/per question solved) or by phone ($0.49/minute)
- Type your question – up to 300 words. For example, “Where do the locals go for an authentic Puerto Rican meal?” Or, “What hotel(s) would the locals suggest to experience the true Puerto Rica?
- A “Livinguer” will contact you shortly with a response
The app is that easy to use and will enhance any visit to unfamiliar destinations! Hemeid adds, “If you have an iPhone, you can use our app and pretty much everything is automated.” Simply log in and you are transferred to the place where the services are offered. Livingua’s usefulness is tailored for both long and short visits. For example, in Puerto Rico, you might be on a cruise that docks for the day. With limited time, you don’t want to waste time, yet you want to experience the “authentic” side of Puerto Rico. Livingua solves that problem by supplying a vetted local resident to advise and make suggestions in a mere few minutes. You save time and money and get to experience the destination.
Instrumental in helping Livingua move in the right direction is the Gainesville Area Innovation Network (GAIN) who has been a big supporter of Livingua from the beginning. GAIN is Florida’s fastest growing social network for entrepreneurs, scientists, students and innovators. It’s the first and oldest organization in Florida that is focused on the innovation economy. Executive Director, Lee May has supported and helped in many ways, from getting Livingua featured on TV to introducing them to their business coach, Ron Stein. Livingua participated in last year’s GAIN Shootout, an annual event where startup technology companies compete to be the Top Gun. May oversees this powerful event where companies present their business plans to a panel of investors, legal experts and entrepreneurs to compete for $7,000 in cash and prizes.
Currently the team is working on their next destination as well as raising the brand recognition in Puerto Rico. For more information, go to www.livingua.com.
About Livingua’s Founders, Ahmed Hemeid, Ismail Abushamma and Victor Borsche: The co-founders share a passion for travel. Collectively they have traveled to over 40 countries, have lived in seven countries for an extended period of time and speak six languages. While at the University of Florida (UF), the team was admitted to the UF’s Gator Hatchery Incubator where they conducted a pilot launch in 12 countries, servicing approximately 100 customers.
The trio began their Livingua venture on the eve of their graduation from the University of Florida in May of 2015. In February of 2016, they received their first seed fund and promptly moved to Denver, CO and started working with the Travelport Accelerator. Livingua officially launched on April 4, 2016, which also marks the date of their first customer!