Secret City Trails raises pre-seed round from Austrian investor

A marketplace for city discovery games gets backing from pan-European marketplace investor,  Speedinvest.      

Lisbon, Nov, 2018. Secret City Trails, a marketplace for city discovery games, announced that it raised  150k in pre-seed funding from Austrian investor, Speedinvest.    

Secret City Trails offers urban adventures during which players (locals or travellers) solve a trail of  riddles via their own smartphone. As they solve the riddles, they unlock stories and local  recommendations.  

This first round of funding will be used to evolve Secret City Trails’ platform, further develop their  technology (a web app) and expand the team (in Lisbon) to support marketing efforts and  management of the community of game builders.    

“We are gamifying city discovery. We entered the market because we wanted to offer an alternative  to (guided) city tours that require pre-booking, start/end at pre-defined times, offer little flexibility  for spontaneous breaks and rarely go truly off the beaten path.”, said Wendy van Leeuwen,  co-founder of Secret City Trails.   

“Our discovery games are self-guided, go to hidden places, share unique and forgotten stories, can be  enjoyed at one’s own pace and are affordable. And of course, the experiences are playful.”, said  Kristina Palovicova, co-founder of Secret City Trails.   

This is the first investment Speedinvest has done in Portugal. “We were closely monitoring the  Portuguese startup ecosystem for some time now - it is really impressive how many great companies  have developed within a short period of time. Lisbon really is on its way to become a European role  model, it is impressive how well government, corporates, investors and entrepreneurs are working  together to bring the startup scene to the next level.", said Markus Lang, Head of pre-seed  programme at Speedinvest.    

Secret City Trails, based in Lisbon, works with local game builders who create playful adventures in  their own neighbourhoods and cities. The local creators have a new, innovative way to share their  cities' unique stories and best places, while enjoying a revenue share. “We like to say that our games are developed by the curious, for the curious.”, said Kristina Palovicova. This way of collaboration with  locals has allowed Secret City Trails to expand across Europe quickly over the past year, now offering  40+ experiences in 17 cities.    

“We believe in using technology to revolutionise how tourism operates. Yet, we think cities are  incredibly beautiful as they are, we don’t need AR or VR to enjoy them. As one of our mentors  recently said, ‘forget Pokemon Go, discover real-life hidden gems instead.’”, said Wendy van Leeuwen.   

“Ultimately, we aim to preserve the authenticity of cities through the power of play. We have a long  and exciting journey ahead to achieve this, but with our pre-seed investment, we’re getting closer!”,  said Kristina Palovicova.  

"When we invest into an early-stage startup, we need to see experienced and ambitious founders,  global potential and a product that solves a real problem. Secret City Trails combines all these  aspects, therefore we are very much looking forward to support Wendy and Kristina to make their  vision come true and ti build an European market leader.”, said Markus Lang.    

About Secret City Trails  Secret

City Trails takes travellers and locals on urban adventures - or city discovery games. During the  games players solve a trail of riddles via our web app (in their phone’s browser). No downloads are  needed, just a little bit (2MB) of data. Our games take players exploring a city’s hidden gems as well as  secrets hiding in plain sight. Solving the riddles puts people in the present and requires focus on  what’s around instead of on your phone.   

Along with each riddle, players unlock stories about the sights and area they are in as well as (secret)  local recommendations to wonderful, independent shops, cafes and bars. The discovery games are an  entertaining, interactive, instantly bookable, affordable and independent way of seeing and enjoying  a city.   

In 10 years we will have transformed how people discover cities. We will be the leading travel player  that preserves the authenticity of cities through the power of play.    

From building games ourselves in our first 11 cities, to working with local game builders to scale,  we’re excited for the future. What’s so exciting is that our business plays to so many trends; besides  people wanting experiences (instead of things), we are going beyond the hype of escape rooms and turning entire cities into playgrounds. We’re also enabling entrepreneurial folks all across the globe to  earn supplemental income by building games with us. On top of that, we’ll be ‘entertaining’ millions  of locals and travellers in cities as they explore them and immerse themselves in them while playing  our games.   

Our games can currently be enjoyed in 18 playful destinations: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin,  Bratislava, Bordeaux, Cologne, Geneva, Haarlem, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Palma, Porto, Rotterdam,  San Sebastian, Singapore, The Hague and Vienna.   


Wendy van Leeuwen / +31 6 18 63 37 07 /