Gas prices may be skyrocketing, but there’s nothing our family likes better than a good road trip. But where to go when the sun shines in Seattle, Santa Cruz or Salem?
Eric Theriault has an answer to that question. The 33-year-old founder of MyScenicDrives.com wants to help road warriors find those classic drives, whether it’s the Going to the Sun road in Glacier National Park or the Big Sur Coastal drive in California.
And the site is not just about planning your trip in that big gas-guzzling SUV. MyScenicDrives just introduced a new feature to showcase electrical vehicle charging stations and help people plan when they might need a pit stop. The company also offers a road-trip planner that allows users to create a personalized itinerary divided into days which can be printed or exported to one’s GPS device.
We chatted with Theriault, who works in a day job as a senior software engineer at Apptio, for our latest Startup Spotlight.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “myscenicdrives.com is a scenic-drive finder and road-trip planner. We make it easy and fun to plan day trips, weekend getaways and cross-country adventures.”
Inspiration hit us when: “I bought a roadster and went looking for cool places to take it out. After a frustrating online search for scenic drives – which ended up being just random lists of roads that could have been anywhere – I realized there was a need for a comprehensive site.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrap. We wanted to keep the organization small and focus on building the product as fast as we could. We may seek outside funding in the future.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Releasing the Road Trip Planner. It enabled us to expand quickly into new markets and reach users worldwide. The Road Trip Planner was originally something we saw happening in the future, but we were inspired to develop the idea sooner with feedback from our users. It has since become one of the more comprehensive tools out there for planning road trips.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “We made a lot of small mistakes but we try to fail fast, adjust our strategy, and learn from the experience.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “That’s a tough one; probably Jobs for his obsessive attention to detail.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “Everyone uses myscenicdrives.com to get out and explore the outdoors. When people experience the beauty of nature, and discover the importance of historic and cultural places, they’ll become more vested in the future of our land and our world.”
Rivals should fear us because: “We’re passionate about the product, we’re natural explorers, and we’re quick to code and release our best ideas. We can innovate because we’re seeing what our users are seeing, and we respond to what they tell us they want.”
We are truly unique because: “We’ve combined two essential aspects of road-tripping – detailed scenic routes highlighting captivating places of interest with a feature-rich road-trip planner. Users can customize their adventures from start to finish, share on social networks, and print or export directions to GPS devices. We offer handy features – from automatically dividing the excursion into comfortable daily itineraries, to locating EV charging stations and incorporating accommodations booked on our site into the road-trip plan. Today’s tech-savvy users want everything at their fingertips.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Releasing the first version. It’s easy to delay launching, always adding new bells and whistles, but until people see and use your product, you have nothing.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Launch early, release new updates regularly, and most importantly, listen to every single user and adapt their input into your product.”