Swiping places with Liist’s Allan Holmes
Debuting a travel app on the cusp of a global lockdown might not sound overly auspicious. For Liist founder and CEO Allan Holmes (B.A., advertising, 2011), it was an opportunity: “We’d launched in January 2020, and two months later people couldn’t travel. We thought, ‘What do we do?’ But people had more time at home to talk about traveling, so we spoke with as many users as possible, and ramped up research and development to make our product awesome.”
A year, a few months, and a vaccine rollout later, Liist’s moment has arrived. The user-friendly and visually-appealing app is for people who want to go places recommended by friends, and check out attractions based on their own investigations. “Before I travel somewhere, I’ll check it out on Street View, and look at location-tagged photos on Instagram,” Holmes says. “Exploring visually is more important and more possible now than ever.”
Liist makes organizing it all easy; Holmes himself is not unlike his ideal user. “I’ve always loved to travel. My key takeaway is that when you go someplace, you want to do something different, whether that’s go to a dive bar, or take a weird podcast walking tour. Recommendations from friends are important. If I was in Thailand and you said, ‘You have to go to this little surf shop,’ I’d do it.”
At launch, Liist’s goal was to organize users’ Google Maps, making them “beautiful and sharable.” Since then, Liist has been integrated into IOS, and can be used on Instagram, complete with bespoke emoji-pins. Roll out on additional platforms including TikTok is imminent. Holmes doesn’t hesitate to compare Liist to a well-known dating app. “With Liist, you swipe places, not faces, but the user experience is quite similar,” he says.
Liist isn’t Allan’s first rodeo. He co-founded software company PopularPays in 2013, then worked as a creative director at Instagram for five-plus years, including a sabbatical in Berlin where he took a coding boot camp, an undertaking that helped him understand what developers go through when they’re trying to make an idea into a reality.
Allan’s inquisitive drive is part of what makes Liist a compelling fit for SCADpro Fund. “We’re delighted to partner with Allan,” says SCADpro Fund managing director Ray Crowell. “He’s ahead of the tech curve in terms how people want to interact with the world around them.”
Holmes shares Crowell’s enthusiasm: “Before the pandemic I came to Savannah to conduct a tutorial with SCADpro students, which was a great experience. I speak with Eleanor [Turner, founder of The Big Favorite] at least once a month to bounce ideas. Rarely do you meet creatives who are CEOs and founders. We prop each other up as much as we can. I love being part of the SCADpro family.”
Written by Peter Relic.