The Trampery along the Thames River recently buzzed with excitement as five budding travel tech companies presented their concepts for Hotel Jumpstart, a mentorship-driven accelerator programme to support the most innovative up-and-coming travel tech startups.
Hotel Jumpstart is the brainchild of Expedia’s leading brands, Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN) and Hotels.com, in collaboration with Traveltech Lab, a London-based incubator for early-stage technology businesses created by The Trampery, specialists in innovative spaces to drive creativity and entrepreneurship, and London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional agency for London.
‘At EAN, we are proud of our own startup roots and retain an explorative, pioneering approach to business,’ shared Clint Hayashi, EAN marketing director. ‘Innovation is at the core of what we do, and we know that investing in technology unlocks new opportunities to support the ever-changing travel industry.’
Hotel Jumpstart is a way for us to help shape the next generation of travel industry entrepreneurs and developers, while also allowing us to stay connected to the latest in tech innovation. – Clint Hayashi
After a rigorous selection process from more than 230 applications, a panel of expert judges from both EAN and Hotels.com heard 10 shortlisted candidates present their proposals, before selecting the top five group to advance into the finals. The five finalists, by order of presentation, were:
CityStasher, a bag storage startup dubbed ‘the Airbnb of luggage storage,’ founded in 2016 by UK nationals Matt Majewski and Jacob Wedderburn-Day. It provides secure and cost-effective spaces where tourists can leave their luggage at small businesses, called StashPoints, across 18 UK cities, as well as Amsterdam and Paris.
Live2Leave, an app that allows users to record travel experiences, see recommendations from a community of selected friends, save travel notes and build itineraries, facilitating in-destination planning. Created by Celeste Owen-Jones & Lea Bourratiere, it has 7,000 recommendations in 1,600 cities spanning 193 countries around the world to date.
Shoot My Travel, a digital marketplace that connects travellers with local professional photographers ‘anywhere you go’, in 230 destinations worldwide. Founded by Valerie Lopez and Camilo Rojas in 2015, the Miami-based startup is the first vacation photography platform to offer personalised photo tours operating through an iOS App.
TripTech, a B2B startup building a direct marketing engine to improve the relevance, security and scale of direct marketing in the travel sector. The technology aims to help travel companies acquire applicable, down-the-funnel users by providing accurate, real-time prices and safe URLs. The team includes Artem Kubatkin, Pavel Glushkov and Fedor Kovalev.
DayBreakHotels, a marketplace selling hotel rooms, apartments, meeting rooms and spa treatments on a modular basis and at a fraction of the standard room-per-night price. Italian nationals Simon Botto, Flavio Del Greco, Lorenzo Stabile and Michele Spadone have taken it from 100 Italian hotels in 2013 to 3,000 hotels in 11 countries today.
When asked about the selection process, Hayashi answered, ‘We looked at several factors to select our start-ups – potential disruption of the idea, quality of the team and if the start-up could benefit from our EAN and Hotels.com experts. Passion was also a key determining factor; innovation and creativity have many forms, but passion and drive are what make great ideas succeed.’
The panel of judges included Ariane Gorin, EAN president; Johan Svanstrom, Hotels.com president; Mariano Albera, EAN vice president of technology; Ian Knox, EAN vice president for global product; and Thierry Bedos, Hotels.com chief technology officer. Gorin commented in behalf of the panel:
The Hotel Jumpstart pitches were truly inspiring. We saw energized, passionate teams working across various parts of the travel industry and trying to solve different problems. – Ariane Gorin
The five chosen startups will be coached by subject matter experts from Hotels.com and EAN, who will lead them through a specially designed six-month programme, which includes advisory workshops and mentoring sessions covering everything from product development and machine learning to strategy, sales and marketing. Additionally, the chosen five will also gain access to EAN’s full suite of content-rich APIs and be assigned their own ‘workstations’ within Traveltech Lab’s shared workspace for the duration of the programme.
In July 2018, the finalists will again showcase their business models to a panel of judges at a gala ceremony attended by senior Expedia executives and employees, invited guests and selected media. An overall winner will be selected and receive US$10,000 worth of Hotels.com travel vouchers to go towards their business travel expenses. To follow their progress, simply follow #hoteljumpstart across all social media.