THack alumni update: Hitlist + Booking.com, TravenUp gets funding, Meet me Halfway is nearly there
Here at Tnooz, we’re always celebrating the evolution of the travel trade, and we have a special fondness for startups.
Despite our culture’s glamorization of startups and all of the talk about flush cash and investment bubbles, the reality is that startups face long odds. They’re “doing low-overhead, low-risk R&D for a handful of corporate giants” who just nab or mimic the best and ignore the rest.
Yet what developers learn by trying to create startups is invaluable to themselves and to the broader community. So Tnooz has been proud to try to support developers with its global series of THacks that have brought hackathons to four continents in the past year.
Here’s an update on a few startups that have emerged from projects prototyped at our THacks. We hope shining the spotlight on them will help.
Founder and chief executive Gillian Morris wanted to bring discovery back into travel by building a mobile application, which she did during a Startup Weekend in Istanbul.
From there, she pulled in friend, (now co-founder and head of design) Timo de Winter to help build an app, which ended up winning Tnooz THack in London a couple of years ago. The app, which lets users to build a list of places they want to go and receive flight deals to those places, debuted in 2013.
Hitlist says its iOS app has been downloaded 400,000 times. It says it has generated more than $ 8 million in sales leads to its partners. It also says it has an average 9,000 daily visitors to its Wandertab Chrome extension that offers trip inspiration.
This week Hitlist announced an integration with Booking.com. Its users can now search the OTA giant’s inventory of properties globally, booking within the app.
Its partnership with flight inventory via Skyscanner, the travel metasearch company, remains intact for the other half of the travel equation.
Cometari’s Meet Me Halfway
Cometari was founded in Cracow by Jakub Hajek in 2012. It sent four employees to the Tnooz 2015 THack in Hamburg, where they coded a mobile application called Meet Me Halfway. It won more than one prize.
The app aims to allow people scattered around the world, such as old school friends looking for a mini-reunion or members of a distributed business team, to find the most suitable location to meet.
The app provides itineraries for each group member, no matter how large the group, Cometari says.
It also gives users forecasts on fare costs, a feature powered by the Sabre GDS feed. Once a user is ready to book, it lets him or her choose the most suitable hotels suggested to you by a geo-located radius. Lastly, the app lets the user pay for the reservations.
Cometari is looking for funding and mentors. It is a software house that funds this project from the revenue generated from services rendered to its customers.
Jakub Hajek (CEO, founder, and system engineer) says:
“There are a few other applications which allow you to meet halfway. These apps work for cities and do not take flights into consideration. From our perspective, there is a huge gap in the market with regard to coordinating events like the ones described here and a demand for a different approach to booking flights.”
“The revenue model has been built on selling flights tickets. We have already got integrated with an OTA who will be supporting us in issuing tickets.”
“The appeal to users is saving time. We are integrated with Slack which allows already created teams to use our solutions.”
“We devote a great deal of our time to experimenting with different approaches, testing various API’s and working on our own solutions. As far as Meet Me Halfway is concerned, the challenge will be implementing multi GDS functionality and allow the traveller to implement group payments.”
Evandro Inada, cofounder and COO of TravenUp, sent a team to attend the 2015 THack in São Paulo. TravenUp has two sides: one is a site where suppliers can list their experiences, activities, and services, and the other is an iOS app where consumer can search and book those experiences, activities, and services.
Ianda aims to supplement the peer-to-peer approach with direct sales of other local tourist services, connecting users with Brazil’s travel agents (such as contracted ones affiliated with AmEx Travel), via a mobile chat function.
The company says it has received $ 200,000 in investment, plus $ 100,000 in bootstrap funding. One of its investors, Roberto Areias, has ties to the largest business travel network in Brazil. Inada says:
“We run offline direct sales tests, selling hotel services directly without the involvement of intermediaries at GRU international airport. The results are a decrease of the total prices for customers, increased direct hotel income and additive increases in travel agency commissioning….”
It emphasizes the use of insiders who will be multipliers of direct negotiations with local suppliers, like the hotel managers of smaller chains and independent hotels. That makes TravenUp’s model different from apps like Lola, which plan to hire agents and travel hackers.