The two British backpackers – Pete Ward, 28, and Jerome Touze, 27, who developed WAYN in their spare time after returning home from a round-the-world trip with combined debts of over Â£40,000, have just secured $11 millions in backing from VC fund Esprit Capital Partners.
Peter Ward said, “Back in 2002 we recognized the huge potential for a travel community network. Travel captures the imagination and meeting people from different places is something that most of us really enjoy doing”
WAYN allows users to create profiles, search for other travellers near them and make friends using the traveller’s social network. Membership has grown from 45,000 users in March 2005 to seven million today, and is increasing by up to 35,000 new members per day with over 650,000 members joining last month alone.
Brent Hoberman, Co-Founder and (former) Chief Executive of lastminute.com said, “WAYN is a flagship example of the next generation of internet companies born out of the UK with global potential. The innovative customer proposition, which enables members to interact with others, based on the places they have been or plan to visit in the future, has proved to be extremely popular. By sharing tips and introductions with likeminded travelers, WAYN members can get more out of their leisure time. The WAYN brand has massive growth potential and I am delighted to be involved.”
Brent Hoberman, who is part of the syndicate of investors, is to join the WAYN team in january 2007 as chairman.
Co-founder of WAYN Jerome Touze added: “This is an exciting time for WAYN and we’re over the moon that other successful parties have the same confidence and vision in our business as we do”
The new funding will help WAYN offer a host of new and improved benefits to its members, including a tailored trip planner and the ability to share experiences and tips with others, in real time through rich media. They are also expanding their technical team which is based in Poland, and setting up shop in the US.