Two friends in a foreign country, same passion for travelling and how the idea of Friend Theory, a platform for all travelers came about.
Former Spanish-born international students, Carlo Spada and Carlos Costa have created a friendship built from their mutual love for traveling. Since meeting in Hong Kong five years ago, exploring 17 different countries, and creating the website Friend Theory, they still show no signs of slowing down, rather, they’re just getting started.
As international students, they afforded their extensive travels by hunting down cheap flights, but most importantly compensating accommodation – indisputably the most expensive part.
To fuel their wanderlust, Carlo and Carlos overcame this financial hurdle by scoping their friendship networks, finding mutual friends living in the countries they planned on visiting and crashing with them for free.
Fast forward to now, Friend Theory is no longer an amateur idea but a fully fledged business model, attracting the likes of Buzzfeed and has 10,000 connections from 127 different countries.
Above saving money, Friend Theory builds social connections.“The more we travelled, the more international friends we made,” says Spada, co-founder of Friend Theory.
Armed with this new network of mutual friends, there is potentially free accomodation wherever they choose to go next which brought down the cost considerably. Not only did this enable them to fly all over the world but it also helped them develop their platform Friend Theory.
Friend Theory is a platform for travelers to find free and trustworthy travel accommodation around the world by connecting them to a mutual friend’s network.
According to their research, for every 100 friends you have on a social network, you’ll have 27,000 mutuals around the world. These guys took advantage of this by merging two powerful and previously separate industries; travel accommodation and social networks to create this free platform that is based on a sense of community.
“We find after all our travels around the world, when you’re staying with someone or hosting someone who knows one of your friends, the feeling is completely different to staying with or hosting a complete stranger,” adds Spada. When you sign up using Facebook, you will be connected to a second degree social network. This way, you won’t be hosted by a complete stranger.
However, free accomodation isn’t all it entails. You can also offer tips or good restaurants to try, free wifi if they need it or simply just offer your company.
Friend Theory came about when Costa thought it would be so much simpler if they create a platform where people can reach this second degree social network.
These two friends, who were living on different ends of the world started playing around with the idea. Spada was working in South Africa while Costa was in Australia working at GoPro after graduating from La Trobe University. Their other friend Guillame Prevost, later joined the team as tech co-founder. After a few months working remotely, Spada took a leap of faith, quit his job, packed his bags and moved to Australia.
When asked how it felt taking this leap of faith, Spada said, “If coming here meant making it happen then it’s going to be worth it”.
The road to success…
When they started working on the project, they had no money at all. Seeing as this startup was built around a sense of community, they began to expand their network. Working from an abandoned storage room in the University of Melbourne had its positives. It gave them the opportunity to work close to students, gain valuable feedback and suggestions.
As their network expanded, so too did their need to find a suitable working space for their growing operation. They are now based at Outcome-Hub in Carlton, where they co-share office space with other emerging businesses and enterprises.
Friend Theory launched on May 1st, 2018. Spada and Costa created a website launch video on Facebook and Instagram, with help from the large community already behind them and buzz about the video went viral and reached 80,000 people overnight. “It was nuts! Our platform crashed,” says Spada.
Their video attracted so much traction that it even got picked up by Buzzfeed. After more than two months they are now sitting close to 10,000 users from 127 different countries around the globe.
The trio were travelling around Europe for the “Friend Theory Roadshow” making full use of the platform for free accommodations and meeting up with mutuals.
Friend Theory has become a hit among travel junkies and makes travelling possible for people who have been wanting to travel but is tight on budget.
“We are lucky enough to be receiving an incredible response from the community we’ve built who are not only embracing the project and actually using it when they travel, but they’re also willing to participate and help us build it,” says Spada.