An Inside 'Peek' At The Best New App For Discovering Adventures

Technology is changing the way that we live, but businesses are often struggling to keep up. The Internet has given us nearly perfect access to information, but has created a whole new cause for migraines; the endless sifting through Google searches to find the best idea or most reasonable deal.

Applying improved technology in clever new ways has fueled companies like Expedia, Priceline and Kayak, as they help make the process of booking travel more customizable. Their services can quickly become complicated, as users try and compare the best rates and most convenient times.

Visitors using these sites often still get caught at traditional tourist traps, as travel sites are only concerned with ferrying their customers to the location, not how the consumers entertain themselves while there.

For people who recently moved into a new locale, it can sometimes be challenging to figure out new activities, and sites like Yelp, while great for restaurant reviews, are less helpful in exploring the interesting nooks of a new area.

If only there were a way that technology could be used to explore new areas in a simple, streamlined way!

Into this void steps Peek, wielding a brand new mobile app. Peek provides a platform for travelers and locals alike to browse and sign up for activities, tours, and classes, while connecting vendors and businesses to potential customers. Activities can be sorted by proximity (using geo-locating), cost, doable with kids, landmarks and other filters.

In slightly more than a year (launching in October 2012) Peek has expanded into 17 US cities plus London and Paris, offering thousands of activities for users to browse and potentially sign up for. Offering a highly visual, intuitive presentation of activities and enabling users to book the activities on the spot, the company offers a surprisingly novel service.

Their mobile app launched today (Thursday 12/12), and by reaching on-the-go consumers where they are, Peek expects to be even more effective at helping people find the best things to do.

The founder and CEO of Peek, Ruzwana Bashir, gave us an exclusive interview, talking about the challenges of a growing tech company, her passion for traveling and she passes on some advice from her experiences as an entrepreneur.

Breaking into mobile technology sphere is crucial for any tech business nowadays, with the prevalence of smart phones. Ms. Bashir believes that the new Peek app will fill a need of consumers seeking even easier, convenient ways to access the information they provide.

Since launching we've seen huge demand for our Peek Tours & Activities mobile app to book quality activities while on the go, in real-time. Mobile is especially important in the activities market because only 20% of travelers book in advance, so users want to be able to use geo-location technology to find fun things to do around them that are available that day.

Many companies have yet to adjust to the new world of internet connectivity, and don't have websites or online booking. For a company like Peek, they connect businesses through the internet to potential customers, necessitating established web presence on both ends. Clearly the consumers have adapted more quickly, but Peek is trying to help vendors catch up.

The activities market is still largely untapped by technology – 60% of tour operators don't have online booking, and 1 in 5 don't even have a website. Therefore, we launched Peek Professional to help activities operators to manage their business by giving them essential online booking and calendaring tools. We also work with our tour operators without websites as can give them online presence with beautiful photos and content about their activities to help them get new customers and grow their bookings.

Not any attraction with an online presence makes the cut, however. Peek employs curators to sift through the many attractions of these bustling locations, designing sequences of activities and placing an emphasis on user experience over reputation.

Our team of travel experts are focused on uncovering all the best activities in every location. We also work with Tastemakers such as Tory Burch and Wolfgang Puck who have created 'Perfect Days', where they share their recommendations on the best things to do and places to see in cities they love. We ensure we select a really diverse group of tastemakers who are passionate about exploring the world around them.

Bashir previously worked at Goldman Sachs, was a founding member and Director of Marketing for, and has worked as a consultant with other enterprises, experiences which she credits for helping her prepare to stick out on her own as worked to construct her own great business with Peek.

Working in private equity helped me gain the analytical and problem solving skills that have been essential in shaping Peek's core business strategies, while working in startups gave me valuable insight into how to build a beautiful product and bring together a talented team.

Beyond what is gained through work experience, however, Bashir acknowledges that there are a few core personality traits that are necessary to become a successful entrepreneur. Merely having the "know-how" and seeing an opportunity do not equate to a recipe for success, she says, as places emphasis on the trait which are most important.

Be really persistent, because there are so many challenges to overcome when you start a new business. Also, self-awareness is key to recognizing your strengths and weaknesses. That means you can bring together a talented team that has skills that can complement yours.

Bashir strongly believes that surrounding yourself with the right people is crucial. Hiring someone just for the sake of expansion, even if growth is pressing, can lead to complications and inefficiencies if it was the wrong hire. Conversely, waiting for the right candidate can make all the difference.

Don't ever rush the hiring process – that's when you can make hiring mistakes, perhaps bringing on board someone who isn't a culture fit or who lacks the requisite skills, and this costs you much more time and money in the long term.

Top Photo Courtesy: Peek