Getting to know you: Alban Sayag

Alban Sayag

What do you currently do?

I am the founder and CEO of WINGiT. WINGiT is a free urban travel app which helps users discover the coolest, most talked-about local events in real-time.

The app is based on a powerful proprietary algorithm that continuously listens to conversations across social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Meetup…). It scans & filters billions of posts to discover the cool events shared by locals to help urban travellers experience what locals are doing, wherever they go. Of course we cannot reveal the magic behind the algorithm, but it uses advanced techniques of semantic analysis, data matching and data modelling, in a big data constraining environment.

Very recently, we announced a major improvement version of our algorithm that enables us to offer – in one click and at no cost – our last-minute events service all over the world. Opening any new city in the world now takes us a couple of hours and costs us nothing. That’s unique for this market!

What is your inspiration behind your business?

Over the last couple of years, we began to see a shift in urban travellers’ expectations: they now want to experience a city like a local and no longer feel segregated like a tourist. On the other hand, travel content providers have not really followed the path. Most of the Apps, websites, and other digital channels still provide extensive but typical “tourists” type of content.

If you want to know about the “off the radar” events, about what really makes the “heart” of a city, you need to listen to what the locals are talking about. And nowadays, people talk on social networks. We therefore had to develop a technology detecting the most talked about events on social networks, fetching the information directly from the source, i.e. the locals.

Who do you admire?

I have a huge amount of admiration for the famous explorers of history. People like Vas Vasco da Gama who were driven by an insatiable appetite for going ever further, discovering and bringing new knowledge to the world. I wish there were still completely unknown territories on earth to discover. Same goes for the greatest inventors, like Nikola Tesla.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

I feel very proud and lucky to work with such a wonderful team at WINGiT. It took me too long to realise that a solid team is more important than everything else in the success of a new venture. Bringing the right talent into the company should have been the first thing on my to-do list, even before the business model or marketing strategy.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Find the right co-founders & partners to work with you and be prepared for long journey, full of ups and downs. Be prepared to run a marathon and a sprint at the same time.

Your resilience will be tested every day, but every small bit of progress you make will give you more satisfaction than in any other job.