ATPI Group, a corporate travel and events business, has unveiled a corporate venture program.
The initiative, called Endeavour, is seeking to invest in a handful of disruptive travel startups over the next two years.
Speaking to PhocusWire, Ali Hussain, ATPI’s chief innovation and technology officer, declines to say how much the total investment pot is but that the funds would be “strategic investments.”
The thinking is that new technologies are emerging that can help ATPI “leapfrog” in terms of technology developments and enable it to respond to changing traveler behavior.
Corporate travel startup Taptrip is the first company to receive funds, which Hussain describes as “significant” and allow ATPI to take a seat on the company’s board.
He adds that Endeavour will invest in startups that are “genuinely changing or transforming the end-to-end workflow, not just something that looks nice but does not fundamentally change the experience.”
“It’s innovative companies that share our passion for customer service and our approach, not just cookie-cutter approach but tailored solutions.”
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The two companies will work together under a project dubbed Edge, with ATPI bringing expertise and existing technology and Taptrip bringing its focus on the user experience, starting with the traveler.
Hussain says investment criteria for Endeavour is based on several parameters, including this traveler-first approach.
“The traditional method starts with the corporate policy and layers back to the traveler, whereas we are looking at approaches that flip that around, that start with the traveler and layer that up.”
He adds that the company is looking for solutions developed using scalable technologies such as the cloud, rather than relying on legacy technology, as well as “built for taking in the fragmentation we see today across the industry.”
While a number of corporate travel startups have attracted huge interest from the venture capital community, criticism has been leveled over whether they have come up with anything different.
Hussain sees the investment as good for the industry but says many of these startups then “morph into traditional online booking tools.”