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This article was published on October 11, 2012

Peek launches with $1.4M from Jack Dorsey and Eric Schmidt to help you discover and book activities

Peek launches with $1.4M from Jack Dorsey and Eric Schmidt to help you discover and book activities
Ken Yeung
Story by

Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a reporter for The Next Web based in San Francisco, CA. He carries around a big camera & likes to write about tech, startup Ken Yeung is a reporter for The Next Web based in San Francisco, CA. He carries around a big camera & likes to write about tech, startups, parties, and interesting people. Follow him on Twitter, on Facebook, and Google+.

Have you ever had a time when you went to a new neighborhood or city and you were looking for cool things to do? Often when you’re in search of things to do, it can be really hard to find a listing to browse. Where do you go? TripAdvisor? Yelp? Foursquare? Wouldn’t it be easier to just have one central and trusted place to go where you can also book it in one seamless fashion? Look no further because that’s what Peek is aiming to do and it launches today.

When you are looking to go on a trip, a couple of the things anyone typically does is to look up accommodation and flight information. One of the last things that is ever done is signing up for activities and things to do. With Peek, their goal is to simply “satisfy your travel cravings” where they can use beautiful photography and aggregated reviews to take the pain out of trip planning.

Peek’s launch comes at a time when the activity management space is really heating up among tech entrepreneurs, especially with peer-to-peer networks like Gidsy and Vayable. Peek is a bit different.

The company is launching with $1.4 million in seed funding from a very impressive team of investors, including Twitter and Square co-founder, Jack Dorsey, Google’s Eric Schmidt, SV Angel, and Khosla Ventures. It was founded by Ruzwana Bashir and Oskar Bruening with exceptional credentials in the startup and tech world. The problem that Peek is trying to solve is that the different activity vendors generally tend to be small businesses with perhaps no strong web presence. It’s hoping that it’ll be the bridge between the customer and the small business.

Peek screenshot

People who visit the site will be greeted with lots of amazing visuals. According to Bashir, her company works to get as many professional photographs of each destination and activity as possible because one of the things that will definitely sell an activity are the visuals. Traveling is truly an experiential concept and photos have great persuasive elements to it.

Users have the option of choosing from a variety of destinations to find activities specific for them. At launch, the service will only have San Francisco and Hawaii activities listed, but there are definitely plans to expand to other locations over the next year. You can find both free and paid activities for each destination and each one is hand-selected by the Peek team for every destination and all content is carefully addressed by a team member, and those activities that have been inspected first-hand by a Peek member is labeled as “Peek verified”.

Peek screenshot

And about those reviews: Peek goes out and pulls in reviews from some of the popular travel and venue review sites on the Internet. Each activity contains a review listing that the team specifically highlights, but if you wish to read other reviews, there are links to go to TripAdvisor or Yelp. Peek is going to give you as much information as possible and try and get rid of the pain of going to multiple places to find reviews — its going to bring it to you. Not all reviews will be positive and Bashir says that depending on what it is, Peek might display that on the activity page and will contact the partner to understand what happened.

When you’ve made a decision about what you want to do, Peek allows you to easily make your purchase from their site. No longer will you need to go to the individual websites to book — it can all be done through their booking engine and the service even offers its best price guarantee. Any transaction is processed using Braintree for easy check-out with Peek taking a healthy commission of 15-30%.

All activities that you choose are shareable across your social networks and it can be synced to your calendar for an easy-reminder.

Peek screenshot

To add to the adventure of choosing your activities for your trip, Peek also offers what it calls a “Perfect Day” where it has a celebrity share their tips for what they would do on their Day. This esteemed group includes CNN host Piers Morgan, Square’s Jack Dorsey, Tory Burch, and French Laundry chef Timothy Hollingsworth.

Right now, the activity market is a bit decentralized meaning that a system currently doesn’t exist that monitors inventory of the different vendors. Peek aims to be that global inventory management service and looks to be heading that way. It has already begun curating relationships with the major tourism organizations in their starter cities and has policies in place to make sure all information is up-to-date. Peek recognizes that the average leisure traveler spends 7 hours just planning a trip going through countless websites, guidebooks, and collecting recommendations from friends. Why not streamline it so you can take a look at ALL the available options for your trip, instead of wondering what else there is?

The site is well-designed and is built in HTML5, making it optimized for mobile devices as well, so in lieu of a mobile application, which Bashir tells TNW that it’s coming soon, users can still use their phones or tablets to access and book activities.

Within the two starter cities, Peek has aggregated a listing of a “few hundred businesses” to participate in the launch and includes big companies such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts and Disneyland. It has previously partnered with great events as well, such as the Tribeca Film Festival, the Napa Film Festival, and America’s Cup.

Image credit: BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages

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