TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring Germany-based Excursiopedia, a international marketplace for experiences, tours and activities.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Excursiopedia offers more than the usual tours and activities and is the Booking.com of the tours and activities sector. We enable almost anyone to list their offerings, ranging from individual persons to independent private guide tour offerings to corporate listings by large multinational activity providers.
We are an international marketplace for experiences, tours and activities – for both travellers and locals and we are already the Russian market leader.
We are four entrepreneurs: Kirill Sermyagin, Nikolay Slabukha, Konstantin Klimov and Yulian Patzelt.
- Kirill is our CEO and initiator of Excursiopedia. He previously co-founded eGraduate.ru, and intellectDesign.ru as well as held the positions of CIO and CDO from the start for eight years at Eurokommerz, a large international financial company which grew during his tenure to over $2 billion turnover and more than 500 employees. He is also the co-founder of a German-Russian travel company and holds a diploma in Economics from the Moscow State University.
- Konstantin is our COO and responsible for design and functionality, internet marketing, technical SEO/SEM and building our great product as well as making us the flexible platform we are by translating all functionality requests. Previously he was the cofounder of mopoto.com, videoNow.ru and intellectDesign.ru and holds a degree from the Moscow State University
- Nikolay is our CTO and the brain without our platform wouldn’t be what it is and the one that makes any useful functionality requests work and created a platform that can launch a new language within days. Previously he was the cofounder of mopoto.com, videoNow.ru and intellectDesign.ru and holds a degree from the Technical University of Moscow.
- Yulian is our CMO and is responsible for Marketing, Strategy and Internationalisation. Previously he worked for three years for an investment holding, was a venture capital investment manager in Germany as well as a freelance consultant. He is also the founder of the consultancy and M&A boutique Advice Angels and holds a degree in Management from the University of London.
Overall we are currently an awesome team of 16 multinationals with headquarters in Munich and we have regional offices in Passau, Germany; Moscow, Russia; Bari, Italy; and Atlanta, USA as well as Barcelona, Spain since this week.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
We launched in January 2011, self-funded and were able to raise a six figured seed round in June this year, enabling us to realise the next big steps forward which include a full re-launch (coming next week) and expanding our multinational team, 16 and growing.
Our road map for this year also includes additional interface languages. Italian has just been launched, Spanish will air soon and a Chinese version is coming later this year.
We will start looking for an additional financing round soon to further accelerate our growth pace and to continue opening additional regional offices as new interface languages come online as well as provide in all languages a 24h our phone support.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Whilst travellers can research flights, hotels and rental cars in depth online by just putting in a location and a date, there is a limited choice for this same service for experiences during that trip.
In addition to those tours and experiences we expect to find, our regional representatives specifically seek out the unusual and unexpected in their area of expertise.
From an elephant rides in the jungle, a jet flight to the edge of space, a relaxing spa chocolate treat, a sailing workshop or a jet ski ride in paradise, to give an impression of the versatile offerings on Excursiopedia. Our "more than the usual tours and activities" is more than a tag line – it reminds us what we want to be able to offer our clients.
Furthermore, we enable almost anyone to list and expose their offerings to a global audience through our flexible and optionally very detailed registration system, thereby creating a selection of offerings you will not find anywhere else. We are becoming the multilanguage one-stop-shop to the universe of fun and cool things to do.
Describe the business, core products and services?
We are an online market place for tours, activities and experiences:
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
- We provide a tour and activity listing service
- We provide a tour and activity booking service
- We offer booking partnerships and white label solutions
- We are not only online in English, Russian, German and Italian, our team also provides customer and guide support in these languages and we just welcomed this week two Spanish speaking team members
Our key customer is anyone seeking to enhance their travel experience or who wants to invest in learning more about their own local surroundings. Our customers are truly global, with activities booked by Americans as far as Australia and Russians booking experiences in the US.
We now cover within ten months over 75 countries and more than 2,000 tours, making us possibly the fastest growing online tours and activities multilingual market place.
While we offer tours in over 25 languages so far the interface is available in English, German, Russian and Italian with Spanish coming very soon. A Chinese version is planned before end of 2011. This will enable us to provide tours and activities to up to 1 billion travellers and locals in their native language.
We also want to point out that our service has also offered economic opportunities to private guides that often offer some of the best, most authentic experiences, but often don’t have ways to market themselves, especially to an international audience.
We are service providers for private guides, and tour companies with hundreds of listings and the in depth interface that we provide for their listings show they are key users in addition to the clients we enable direct bookings worldwide.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We had proof of business before the investment and since tours and activities bookings are a global Euro 50 billion to Euro 70 billion market and after flights and hotels the 3rd largest travel segment we had more money on the table than we were willing to take back in June.
We are in an exciting growth market growing at double percentage rates year on year and so far only about 20% of tours and activities are booked online, what leaves plenty of growth to realise in the coming years. Additionally, there is not an established player against which a start-up wouldn’t stand a chance.
These things, together with the track record of the team, made it an easy call for our investors. We are now starting the next talks for a larger investment round. We believe that the market will start to consolidate, and we are considering our options to be proactive during these market changes, potentially integrating individual language players to one big conglomerate whilst keeping also their local presence.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Registering tours, activities and experiences is free and we take a straightforward15% commission on successful transactions. Currently we focus on growth and the profitability will come with the volume of transactions.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Great multinational team, international focus, speed, multilingual, booking.com positioning enabling almost anyone to list their offerings, ranging from independent private offerings to corporate listings by large multinational activity providers
- Keeping up on all ends with growth, many ideas and functionalities that we can’t implement all at once – our developing team kindly tells us "nine women also don’t get a baby in one month"!
- In short: a global Euro 50 to Euro 70 billion market and we are the fastest growing multilingual tours and activities site. All the millions of activities and experiences which aren’t listed yet on Excursiopedia and at least ten more languages in which we can present our interface to reach the widest possible global audience on both sides of an experience, the experience providers and seekers
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Managing our international growth pace and the good old legal insurance issue concerning our industry
Well, we have all been entrepreneurs before so we rather look at chances and try to minimise risk. We believe in "always shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars".
The market is a large Euro multibillion market and the current players lack innovation and are, according to market feedback, a pain to work with.
As a team we unite the know-how and necessary complementary knowledge to know how to build and manage a large company, and so far we are pleased with the initial results.
Now the next steps will be the relaunch of the platform (coming soon), with great new features and functionalities and a more appealing design as well as the usual homework to perfection the SEO game, increase the press coverage and our marketing efforts.
And naturally we will need additional financing for our ambitious plans, but have already promising talks and investors interested in this market are cordially invited to get in touch.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
We want to at least triple our offerings, be online in at least eight languages and most importantly have thousands of happy clients who come back for the next “more than the usual tours and experiences” moments to Excursiopedia.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.