SALIHA REHANAZ | NEWS
Wondering how to explore new experiences without getting on a flight? FreeGuides enables fresh adventures and the re-discovery of Sydney and Australia, in a post-pandemic world.
Amidst the frenzy of adjusting to the ‘new normal’ and coping with uncertain vaccination plans, travel has become the least of people’s concerns over the past year. With travel bans, spiked flight prices, and lengthy quarantine periods still in place, people are seeking local experiences and adventures like never before.
By understanding the value and importance of exploring areas and sights around you, even before the pandemic, Founder Daniel Wasilewsky birthed the idea of FreeGuides – a platform where anyone can find experiences near them, and create experiences for others while earning money.
On the FreeGuides app, there are a plethora of experiences to choose from no matter where you are. Whether you enjoy dipping your toes in the arts or savouring fine dining, FreeGuides provides perfectly curated experiences for everyone. It enables you to connect with other like-minded people by creating an experience of your own. And, if people like the experience you have created on the platform, they can pay you to show their gratitude.
Imagine a free walking tour, but make it virtual – with images and videos and voice notes.
Taking a ‘tour’ of 25-year-old Daniel Wasilewsky’s life, the inspiration and motivation for FreeGuides can be understood even better.
Daniel explains, when asked about how he became the person he is today, “I have always been entrepreneurial from a very young age. One weekend when my parents were away in Year 9, my sister and I wanted cookies, so we decided to go to Woolies and buy some cookie mix. She thought the cookies tasted really good, so the next day I took the leftovers and sold them to the kids at my school. It escalated till year 11, where I had a ‘full-time employee’ who was selling my cookies out of his locker on a commission basis.
“We were making 100 cookies every day and selling them for 1 dollar, with the cost of each cookie being only 11 cents. That’s when I realised my true passion was making something that someone would actually be willing to pay for.”
While Daniel may have experienced luck in the cookie industry, his urge to constantly innovate and build new things has not necessarily always resulted in success for him.
Studying a first-time offered undergraduate course in Creative Intelligence at UTS, Daniel was encouraged to take part in numerous competitions and projects. While often commended for his presentation skills and pitching techniques, sometimes his ideas were one all-important inch away from perfection.
FreeGuides, the “Uber for free walking tours,” was not any different, as Daniel describes what inspired him to start the platform, “I was in New York for a month for an internship, and I wanted to be able to explore the city as much as I possibly could. I looked up free walking tours around me and found there were 18 tours available.
“I did 8 out of the 18 walking tours, and that is when I knew I wanted to create a platform so people can express their voices in a way with which others will empathise. So, I started mapping out what a walking tour app would like.”
It was the constant conversations and discussions about the progress of how FreeGuides was going that led to Cameron Wasilewsky becoming the Tech Co-Founder and joining his brother Daniel on the FreeGuides journey. It was also the moment when the brothers recognised the need to expand the team, and brought along Jairaj Sharma, Chief Technology Officer of FreeGuides.
With a dream team and an insight into how the platform had to be, Daniel converted an Instagram page, controlled by a bot, into a holistic mobile application. However, after spending a whole year working on the application, it was not until the end of 2019 when Daniel and his team took their first guided tour on FreeGuides, and realised they hated it.
Not too long after, a pandemic reverberated around the world, and that was when Daniel gained clarity and understanding of his product. He decided to transform the platform into one of completely self-guided tours, which enabled you to hear your virtual tour guide’s voice and allowed you to experience the adventures in your local area in an entirely new way.
“We knew that we had to include every type of media possible, which meant video, text, or audio. And we found this by discussing it with our guides, because we wanted to make a product that people would actually enjoy and get the most out of,” Daniel had realised.
After the launch in January, FreeGuides is now available for people to use and experience all over Australia, with prospects of launching in different countries all over the world.
“FreeGuides is not just a product. We have found a way to digitise the free walking experience. With the pandemic and experiencing the product first-hand, my biggest takeaway is to not worry about the risks and just act on my plans. It is important to not wait for an external stimulus and just make the decision. We made the decision to change the platform after listening to our guides, and it’s been the best decision.”
So, whether you want to know where to find the best margarita in Sydney, or you want to guide others to the greatest chai latte you’ve ever had (and have the opportunity to earn money from sharing your knowledge), FreeGuides is what you’ve been waiting for. Visit www.FreeGuides.com for more information, or download the FreeGuides app from the Apple or Google Play store.