Mobile app startups: Zeeno, Overnight and SpeechCode

This is a regular roundup of some of the latest mobile application startup launches in travel covering everything from trip inspiration and planning to virtual assistants.


What is it?

Zeeno is a travel app aiming to help travellers see a different side of a destination by connecting them to locals. The locals put together tours of the city and then act as a guide. 

Who’s behind it?

Zeeno is family owned and operated.

Tory Wergelis-Isaacson – founder and CEO. Tory is a former maths teacher who has turned his passion for travel into a full-time business.

Tory’s brother, Ethan Wergelis-Isaacson, works as a senior marketing program specialist for one of the largest hospitals in Philadelphia and has significant fundraising and marketing operations experience.

Their father, David Isaacson, has technology and management expertise across both startups and global corporations. 

Is there a problem you’re trying to solve?

Tory says:

“So the problem is two fold – convenience and experience.

The idea for Zeeno came about while I was traveling to Prague and had scheduled an early morning walking tour. Due to flight delays, I ended up not getting to the hotel until very late and so getting out of bed was more difficult than usual. And then, it turns out it was pouring rain all morning.

“So as I’m standing on this tour, with a group of people I had never met, miserably tired and soaking wet, I wondered why tour companies didn’t let me pick whatever time I wanted to start the tour. Or at least, let me re-schedule if the weather was not cooperating.

“Zeeno fixes all of that by letting you choose the time and place you want to start your tour with no advanced booking required.

“The second aspect, the experience, came from living in a community of expats while teaching abroad.

The stories that people exchanged were never ones that involved the common tour or traditional sightseeing experience. They always started with “So I started talking to the guy who worked at the bar and he invited me…..” The stories that people kept with them were the ones in which the tourist stigma was removed and they got to peek behind the curtain to experience the local perspective.”

Anything else?

The Philadelphia-based startup is self-funded so far but looking for investment. The idea is to expand to an additional one or two cities (depending on funding) next year. It was part of the Washington D.C.-based 1776 Accelerator.


What is it?

Overnight is a mobile-only, peer-to-peer instant booking platform which aims to narrow accommodation options according to proximity. It also has a social element bringing Facebook “mutual friends” into the search.

The platform aims to make it easy for hosts to respond within seconds and thereby reduce the booking time.

Who’s behind it?

Founded by Asher Hunt, Artia Moghbel, and Ethan Kravitz.

Is there a problem it’s trying to solve?

The startup says:

“Overnight’s mission is to make travel more accessible to more people.

“The founders strongly believe that by visiting other places, cultures, and meeting new people, the world can be a better, friendlier, and more tolerant place.

“That ideology fuelled the creation of Overnight, which breaks down the barriers to spontaneous travel. By encouraging this style of travel, Overnight lets journeys happen when inspiration strikes, because the best memories are created when you embrace community and spontaneity.”

Any funding, participation in accelerators etc?

The company has raised $2.5 M in venture funding.


What is it?

The app aims to make written information, such as signage around hotels, attractions and museums, accessible to everyone.

The technology works creating a code for the written information which users can then scan and have it read out loud.

Who’s behind it?

Richard Hopf is co-founder and chief technology officer. He previously owned a multi-media company.

Barbera Operschall is CEO. She has a background in the hospitality industry, formerly holding roles within brands including Marriott and Best Western.

Is there a problem you’re trying to solve?

Operschall says:

“Apart from the trend that video and audio will become more popular than reading information, already now 50% of all people in the western world have restricted access to information, due to illiteracy, language deficits, age, and visual impairments.

“In tourism audio info has the additional advantage that it leaves hands and eyes free for other things, such as sightseeing or sports equipment.

“SpeechCodes major USP over any internet-based solutions or QR-codes is that it works fully offline, as the entire content is stored in the code or tag.

It works independent of any connectivity, always, everywhere and cost-free for everyone, even for visitors from abroad.

Another problem SpeechCode can solve is making any currently printed information accessible to become compliant with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilites.”

Any funding, participation in accelerators etc 

SpeechCode has just partnered with startup funding platform, Fundable. The company is already working with about 30 tourism organisations.

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