#149 - How a small startup is transforming a massive industry like tourism by designing for products people care and talk about

An interview with Tom Charman, Co-founder and CEO of Nava

Product InnovationThis podcast interview focuses on product innovation that enables us to rediscover the places and the people that make the area we live in or visit unique. My guest is Tom Charman, Co-founder and CEO of Nava

For the last decade, he founded, been involved in, and scaled high-growth consumer-facing products that aim to solve questions relating to understanding and predicting human behavior through data. 

He’s a fan of lean startup methodology and spend most of his day building products. Tom gave a TEDx on A.I. and quantum computing, advised corporates on data privacy/security, and UK and EU parliaments on data and innovation.

He co-founded NAVA in 2017 around the vision to connect people together through food. Their mission to realize this through creating immersive city experiences across Europe by helping locals better understand what’s going on around them. 

UNWTO recognised NAVA as one of the world’s most disruptive tourism startups.

This resonated with me, and hence I invited Tom to my podcast. We explore what’s broken in the process of restaurants and venue reviews and how this is not only impacting us as consumers, but also many business owners – simply because their ‘larger peers’ have an unfair competitive advantage.

We discuss how to solve both the B2C and the B2B challenge with smart technology, and how to do this in a way that fuels itself by designing for virality. 

Here are some of his quotes:

When you look for, say, a restaurant or a place to visit on Google, the kind of the general feeling is: ‘if it’s above four stars, it’s worth going to.’ But actually today, most restaurants about four stars. So how do you pick out a restaurant that’s 4.3 versus a restaurant that’s 4.4. And at the end of the day, that’s ignoring the kind of things that come with it like boosted posts and information to try and manipulate reviews.

The general feeling here is this is a system that’s flawed and fundamentally broken. The whole independent market of local restaurants, local bars, independently own places, it’s such a disjointed and fragmented market, which makes it hellishly difficult to actually work.

But if you get something like this working, what you’re doing here is creating a global platform for independent venues to actually compete against the Starbucks, the McDonald’s the all of the other big chains that are out there – giving them a level playing field.

During this interview, you will learn four things:

  1. That too many business software companies say they are talking to customers, but miserably fail to do so.
  2. Why we should make it the standard rule to consume less data instead of more (without compromising quality)
  3. Why too many features can become your biggest problem and what to do about it
  4. How rapid +50% growth isn’t always an indicator you got product market fit

For more information about the guest from this week:


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About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.