Duodomain AS – Travel-expense reporting made easy

In 2017, when the Travelogue project was awarded STUD-ENT funding, the Duodomain team consisted of Emil Knudsen Pamer (26), Kristoffer Ålhus (25), Joar Midtun (25), Simen Skaret Karlsen (23) and Jørund Barth Vedøy (26). The project is affiliated with the University of Bergen.

All team members followed the same Bachelor’s programme in Cognitive Science and subsequent Master’s programme in Informatics at the University of Bergen.

What is the customer problem and how can it be solved?

Filling out travel-expense forms is a time-consuming and often challenging process that affects multiple company employees. Even modern systems encourage employees to fill out a travel-expense report during company hours after the business trip is completed. Advances in mobile phone technology, artificial intelligence as well as amendments in legislation make it possible to solve these challenges in a better, more efficient way. Our product, Travelogue, does the entire job using a mobile app that also helps users to fill out the travel expense information correctly. Travelogue is superior to existing solutions because it updates the entire expense report while the business trip is under way, and helps users to comply with the correct rules and regulations. It also calculates the employee’s per diem, any car allowance and converts from foreign currencies, automating much of the work involved with travel-expense reporting. Travelogue has a modern, user-friendly interface and will employ artificial intelligence technology to make the job even easier.

Why did you choose entrepreneurship and Travelogue?

We developed Travelogue alongside our studies over a year and a half and we are proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. We have received encouraging feedback from established accounting and payroll systems actors. We decided to dedicate ourselves to the project because we believe the market has room for and needs a specialised solution for travel expense reporting that is compatible with accounting and payroll systems. And it is an added bonus that we get to work for ourselves.

What will support from the Research Council mean for you?

The support from the Research Council is extremely important since it enables us to finalise and pitch our product. We would not have been able to save up enough money on our own while we are students. The Research Council support allows us to work full-time on Travelogue, which is particularly critical in the start-up phase. This is crucial to reduce risk for other, established actors as partners in the project.

What knowledge does the project build on and how is the UiB involved?

The project builds on knowledge within artificial intelligence and software development that we have acquired through the Master’s programme in informatics currently being completed by all the project participants.
The university contributes scientific expertise for the most part. It is incredibly helpful to have access to resource persons in these fields in the immediate vicinity. In addition, the University of Bergen provides access to important networks via the media cluster, Media City Bergen, which opens new doors and inspires new ideas for the future.

What did you think about the application process?

We attended a course at the university’s technology transfer office, VIS, and they gave us a lot of useful information about what the STUD-ENT scheme involved and how the application process worked. If you have access to any similar information sources we strongly recommend that you take advantage of them.

It would have been helpful to have access to previous approved applications, as we found it difficult to understand certain items in the application form. But, once again, VIS was very helpful in this regard. Don't wait for the educational institution to contact you; take the initiative yourself. Find out who is responsible for submitting the application on behalf of the students, go to the Research Council’s website and get started on your application and find a suitable mentor early on.

We think it is a good idea to highlight the problem you aim to solve instead of jumping forward to the solution/technology in question. A deep understanding of the challenge is obtained through knowledge of the market and its needs, and the presentation to the referee panel is the best chance you have during the application process to show that you understand the needs of potential customers. It is important to think through all the questions that the panel might ask to avoid being caught off-guard during the session.

The feedback meeting held after the funding allocation is important because it forms the basis for the project-specific requirements that must be fulfilled during the project period. We found the feedback constructive, and the referees clearly gained a good grasp of what our project would entail very quickly. In other words, there are good reasons to take their feedback to heart. The feedback we received did not lead to major changes to our project description, but it did help to paint a clearer picture of what we should be focusing on and which tasks we should prioritise.