Today we introduce another startup - Nexto - a cultural destination gamifying platform. Nexto takes tourism to the next level by offering gamified storylines for cultural destinations such as castles, ruins, and archeological sites. The app transports travellers to a highly engaging, exciting, and playful new side to travel, helping to bring travellers to sometimes under-visited destinations and facilitating interactive and memorable experiences. Since its launch in May 2016, Nexto has gathered 50 Slovenian partners, as well as projects in Croatia, Austria and New Zealand, and has earned 10,000 organic app downloads.

We spoke to Franci, CEO of Nexto and participant in next week’s Booster Lab, about the motivation, ideas, and goals that drive Nexto. Read what he said below:

 

What triggered you to start Nexto?

As cultural buffs and travelers we’ve been frustrated with how poorly heritage content is presented with traditional audio guides or with most dedicated museum and guided tour apps.

I've been building digital products for over 10 years. As a self taught developer, I was always attracted to improving user experience in public spaces through new technologies. While building a software development company in Slovenia and a couple of dedicated apps for the space of cultural tourism, I began noticing a common pattern in challenges and opportunities in this field. I spent my youth exploring cultural destinations and participating in cultural engagement projects. My father was the CEO of one of the largest nature parks in Slovenia and was always pushing the limits of engaging presentation with what was available at the time. I'm now applying that passion, understanding and experience to the technological opportunities I see for improving cultural engagement in younger generations. I believe there's enormous potential in location based storytelling (especially with gamification and Augmented Reality (AR)) for cultural tourism to engage people on a level we haven't seen before.

As avid gamers, we knew there is a better way of conveying these amazing stories. A type of storytelling that is more engaging, exciting and memorable. Especially with the technology that is now available on the devices in our pockets, we saw an opportunity to create something special.

 

What is Nexto and what is its impact on the travel industry?

We are building a mobile platform that enables cultural tourism organisations (destination marketing agencies, heritage interpreters, creative agencies, etc.) to create engaging on-location gamified AR experiences. We are bringing destinations of historic and cultural significance to life by enabling on-location "escape room" type experiences with the concepts of gamification and AR on mobile devices. With Nexto, any historic location (ruins, castles, archeological sites) can become a gamified attraction. Our goal is to gradually replace the outdated audio guide concept with a new and immersive way of location based storytelling on your mobile device. We want to make visitors feel like they're Indiana Jones, exploring hidden and off the path locations. Especially with AR, we imagine heritage locations as theme parks of the future (i.e. Jurassic Park, HBO’s Westworld) where visitors will be able to experience historic events first hand and immerse themselves into historic narratives.

We’ve created a new format for location based storytelling that visitors can experience through our mobile app. We enable cultural heritage destinations to build interactive guides that present their content through a streamlined storyline where visitors are able to hear historic characters talking to each other, peek into the past through augmented reality and solve puzzles, riddles and quests to collect rewards.

We believe our platform can help increase visitor engagement and interest of cultural content. Because our storytelling format is exciting, we believe we can drive foot traffic to destinations and locations that would otherwise be neglected due to the lack of tourist infrastructure or general exposure. We think of our platform as Pokemon Go! for heritage.

 

What recent milestones are you most proud of?

We have recently launched our first three interactive stories in two Slovenian historic towns and the National gallery of Slovenia that were very well received, by both the public and heritage experts alike. We’re also happy to have forged our first international partnerships in Austria, Croatia and New Zealand that will help us expand our business.

 

What excites you about the Booster Lab programme?

We'd love to share our insights and learn from the community, becoming part of it. Making culture, history and heritage more exciting and accessible to travelers and explorers is our passion, and we would love to be a part of the discussion surrounding opportunities and challenges in the sector.

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We are equally eager for Nexto to join the discussion! We’re sure the weekend will be inspiring, illuminating, and a lot of hard work. Tomorrow we’ll post the next startup story. Need to catch up on the action? Read back to yesterday’s post on The European Travel Company.