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Andrew Mason Starts A New Company Called Detour, Gets Pooped On

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Andrew Mason Starts A New Company Called Detour, Gets Pooped On
[ Business]

It turns out that Groupon founder and former CEO Andrew Mason has been doing more than just sitting around eating ice cream by himself and recording motivational business albums. He’s also been creating a new company called Detour.

First of all, let’s get the poop thing out of the way. BloombergBusinessWeek ran an interview with Mason about Detour. The first paragraph ends with him getting pooped on by a Seagull. The entire article closes with him using his sweatshirt to wipe bird feces out of his hair. Here are the relevant snippets:

“People have an enormous hunger to have really compelling experiences in their cities,” Mason says. Then a seagull poops on his head.

If it seems a bit of a leap, Mason says Detour’s mission is similar to Groupon’s at its most basic level. “Groupon was a way to get people out of the house,” he says after wiping bird droppings out of his hair with his sweatshirt. “This is also a company where success is not measured by the time we get people to stare at a screen.”

Mason had this to say on the matter:


Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, Detour is about giving people audio tours of places based on GPS coordinates. You can sync audio across phones for a “seamless” group experience if you like.

Mason co-founded the company with Yishai Lerner. On his blog, Mason writes:

I’ve wanted someone to build Detour since Apple created the App Store (I was preparing to launch Groupon at the time). I started thinking about the concept when my wife and I visited the Roman Ruins in 2006. We wanted to learn about the Ruins, but we’ve never really liked guided tours. Trapped for hours with a group of tourists and on someone else’s schedule, they make vacation feel like work.

So we downloaded an audio guide on our iPod and each put an earbud in one ear. It was a crude setup, but there was something special about being tuned into a different layer of reality than everyone around us. Since that experience, every time we went on vacation I’d look for a relevant app, but never found one with great content that really took advantage of the new technological possibilities. So after leaving Groupon, I thought I’d give it a try.

Interestingly, while travel is obviously a major part of this app, Mason says he sees potential for locals.

“Last November, Yishai and I visited New York to take an audio walk by artist Stephan Crasneanscki of Soundwalk, during which a Hasidic Jew guides you through his neighborhood in Brooklyn,” he writes. “You become cinematically immersed in the narrator’s world, as if a character in a film. The experience left us imagining possibilities for Detour much bigger than the trivia-laden audio tours you might find in museums. Rather, we came to see Detour as a way to walk the world in someone else’s shoes.”

Detour is starting in the Bay Area, and is releasing a new “detour” – the audio tracks – every couple weeks. Other cities will come later. The company is working with journalists, radio producers, tour guides, filmmakers, and artists to produce “detours”.

Mason may be on to something here. If it catches on, and interesting people create these “detours,” people could gain some compelling new travel experiences. It could be cool to tour a location using insight from a person (possibly even a famous person) who has first-hand knowledge or a unique perspective on it.


Mason also took the opportunity to comment on what he’s learned from Groupon:

I remember being four years into Groupon – proud of what we’d built, with 12,000 employees, $5B in annual sales, and an IPO under our belt – but sometimes thinking back to when we were small, and wishing I knew at the beginning what I knew then. So I’ve relished the experience of beginning again.

Unfortunately, he didn’t have any updates on a second album.

Image via Detour

Andrew Mason Starts A New Company Called Detour, Gets Pooped On
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