With 2021 coming to an end, STQRY is ready to celebrate its 15th birthday. Over the past 15 years, STQRY has grown from an idea into a global leader of digital experiences. We chatted with Thomas Dunne, Founder and CEO of STQRY, to reflect on the company’s incredible journey and he took us through what the next 15 years have in-store.
In October 2002, Thomas visited the Grand Rapids Public Museum in Michigan on his trip to attend a local conference. The museum offered visitors audio wands to guide the learning experience in their Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. “While waiting for the audio wand to be charged, I was listening to a voicemail on my smartphone,” Thomas recalled. Suddenly, an idea came to his mind, “I wonder if the audio tour could be delivered through mobile phones, just like when we dial to listen to a voicemail.” At the time, only 55 percent of people in the United States owned a smartphone. Although the technology was not mature enough, Thomas saw huge potential in the idea – mobile audio tours will become a game-changer to improve accessibility and cater to all learning styles. Waiting for the right timing to launch this new venture, he had conducted countless hours of research and had drafted a plan to succeed.
Then in October 2006, Thomas visited the George Eastman Museum with his family. While his children were attending the trick-or-treat event at the museum, he mentioned this business idea with the museum curator. She saw the value of mobile tour guides and believed that it could be an effective solution to their equipment breakdown issues. “At that point, I knew it was the right time to implement it. So, on November 2nd, 2006, I resigned from my previous company and started STQRY, formerly OnCell.” The following July, Thomas received the investment check to make his plan come to life, and STQRY’s story truly began.
OnCell started by offering dial-in tours before mergers with TourSphere and MyTour. Years of in-house development have seen the product suite advance to become the industry-leading platform you see today. “Interestingly, we still get over a million users on the dial-in tour system every year,” Thomas said.
Mobile technology has gone through some pretty significant changes over the past 15 years. Following the technology shifts, STQRY has been incrementally improving its product, now offering web and native apps, collections management software and various forms of digital touring. Today, STQRY provides digital solutions across 40 countries and even has a second headquarters in New Zealand.
Reflecting on its journey, the company has been delivering highly customized interpretive touring experiences to millions of people every year, empowering visitors with different learning styles.
— STQRY app user at Nags Head Woods Preserve
The guided walk through the woods added a lot to what I would have experienced without it.
— STQRY app user at Fort Donelson National Battlefield
We recently visited Fort Donelson. It was so great to come home and listen to this audio tour because it gave us a fuller understanding. This is so important!
— STQRY app user at Harry S Truman National Historic Site
Thank you for making this possible! I was able to connect the dots as I walked around the grounds using my phone.
Developing people is another one of STQRY’s amazing achievements according to Thomas. “We have created a transparent culture here where people have the autonomy and the ability to grow professionally,” Thomas said. As a global SaaS company, STQRY now has team members located across four different continents, with some of its former employees launching successful careers in companies like Google and Microsoft.
When it comes to the future, Thomas believes that STQRY will continue to grow by offering a wider range of services to the existing market, while inventing more creative solutions to help our clients.
So we raise a glass to celebrate an incredible 15 years and we thank you for supporting us in our ever evolving dreams for the future of engaging digital experiences and beyond.
Here's to 15 more and counting!