The nascent travel startup scenes in Brazil and Chile are increasingly gathering momentum, with a network of investors, mentors, state support and events falling into place to help the sectors grow.
Latin America has already produced stars like Hotel Urbano, which Priceline Group recently took a $60 million stake in; CruiseWise (acquired by TripAdvisor);WeHostels (acquired by Student Universe); and GlampingHub, which raised $1 million last year.
Yesterday in Sâo Paulo was Demo Day Brasil, an event run by Start-up Brasil, an accelerator underwritten by the federal government's MCTI agency (Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação), to bring together 20 prominent startups and swap growth numbers and best practices. (Venture Forum also supported.)
Start-up Brasil has helped support several new businesses, including a few travel startups that are now thriving:
- Max Milhas is a platform for selling and buying plane tickets for frequent flier miles that's a graduate of the field immersion program at Harvard Business School.
- Pick2trip is a metasearch engine where travelers, through the choice of photos that represents the emotions and sensations sought for a trip, discover and consume travel experiences around the world in a personalized way. It aims to generate highly qualified leads to online travel agencies.
- Razoom aims to be Latin America's leading tours-and-activities aggregator and it is already off to a solid start in Brazil. (See Tnooz's profile of Razoom.)
, an association for the promotion of Brazilian software, is a supporter of Demo Day in Brazil and of surrounding events. Vitor Andrade, a manager at Softex, noted:
"Foreign investment now exceeds by more than twice the invested public resource after only a couple of years."
Meanwhile in Chile, on 20 August, LATSA, the Latin American Travel Startups Association, launched its first travel conference.
Wine tourism is seen as an especially promising in growth area in Chile, where tourism is the second greatest source of income for Chile after petroleum sales.
Acteavo, a provider of online booking software to tour and activity operators, is one of the travel startups that attended the launch conference. Olan O’Sullivan, CEO of Acteavo, said by email interview:
“Being based in Chile as an international startup is a great experience. However, as a travel startup it takes time to access the market. We felt an Association would be a great way to leverage the alumni for future startups and also develop an educational resource for the local tourism industry."
Another travel startup in Chile attending the inaugural event was Keteka, a community-based adventure travel platform, which has recently received $100,000 in equity free funding. Jack Fischl, COO and co-founder of Keteka, said in a statement:
“We deal predominantly with offline tour operators providing off the beaten path experiences. Accessing these types of suppliers can be challenging....Through outreach we can educate tour operators on the benefits of online distribution and help bring income direct to their communities.”
Tim Zenderman, CEO and founder of Bananadesk, a property management system for hostels, said:
“We have a fantastic network here in Start-Up Chile, an accelerator with close to 300 startups accelerated per year. We want hostels, tour operators and hoteliers to benefit from this expertise no matter where they are based in the region.”
Start-Up Chile offers an equity-free grant of $35,000, free office space and a 1 year work visa for Chile.
HACKATHON: São Paulo will host our first THack in South America, our third continent in as many months, from Saturday 29 August to Sunday 30 August. Free for developers!
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