Story Tourist: when stories meet reality

Be a tourist in your favorite childhood story

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Photo: Creative Business Cup 2019 / Story Tourist from Sweden: Winner of the Welcome Solution category.

While we may have swapped our metal plate armour and satchels for smart suits and suitcases, and our plod to school for the work commute, when it comes to the fairy tales that formed the nightly narratives of our adolescence, for some reason we’re a little more reluctant to completely let go.

Its magical ambience has embedded in our lives.  From needing to “kiss a couple of frogs” to “finding our happy ever after”, watching countless romance movies that mirror the stories we fell asleep to or dreamt of having, not to mention the next-level excitement that greets any kind of royal wedding, we’re clearly still hooked on these less-than-likely tales, however little relation they bear to the more troll and ogre-packed realities of daily life.

For grown-ups, fairy tales give us with a sense of nostalgia and familiarity; for children, they enable them to visit another world and help to extricate their imaginations. When it comes down to fairy tales, it’s all about the way you tell it. And that’s why they’ll continue to be a part of every generation for a long time.

Same happened with Johanna Forsman – one of the founders of Story Tourist from Sweden. It all started with a childhood dream and inspiration to bring fairy tales to life. Alongside Johanna is her partner – Andreas Jansson – together they created a concept, Story Tourist – an app where anyone can experience books, films and their childhood fairytales come to life, turning the world upside down into a playground packed with mythical creatures and magic that liberates our imagination.

We had the chance to have a chat with Johanna — to learn more about the company – from how it all started to the challenges they faced to get where they are now and what’s next for Story Tourist.

  1. What was the insight that drove the funders to form the company?

The concept of experiencing stories at the locations where they are set, has been a dream of mine since I was a kid and read books that took place in far-away countries. Then a few years back me and my partner Andreas Jansson received funding together with Malmö City Library in Sweden to do a literacy project aimed at high school students, and we build a first prototype of the StoryTourist app where they could write their own location-based short stories and experience them in their city. They loved it, and so did we! We realized that the combination of story and place was very powerful, and when we started looking at viable business ideas for the concept, we realized that this would be a very good fit for the tourism industry.

  1. How important it is for your company to advocate sustainable tourism?

It’s very important. The travel industry is one of the least sustainable industries, there are great initiatives being made to change that, but as an industry we all need to do more. We want to encourage slow and local tourism. The StoryTourist app has self guided tours that you do on foot or by bike, in your own pace.

  1. Did winning at creative business cup have an impact on your company? Has it opened doors and opportunities?

Yes, I honest think that the Creative Business Cup was the nicest entrepreneurship event we have ever attended – and we have been to a few! We left feeling really inspired by the other companies and excited about our future collaborations with people that we met at the event. We are really curious to see what this autumn holds in store for us!

  1. What are your biggest challenges?

Our biggest challenge is that a day has too few hours! StoryTourist operates at the intersection between culture, mobile gaming and tourism, and bridging so many industries gives a lot of exciting opportunities, but it also means that we have to choose carefully what we spend our time on.

  1. What’s next for StoryTourist?

We have spent a lot of time developing the concept and the technology,and feel really proud of what we have created. Now we are focusing on creating more content, building partnerships, finding that product/market fit and opening our next seed round!