Loop consolidates information related to group travel, such as hotel
reservations, transportation, events and a closed communication network, in one
platform, which can be accessed even when internet access is not available.
company was founded in April 2017 and currently works with about a dozen group
travel providers, primarily in the areas of student and religious travel.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your
Trip Loop is the communication solution for group travel.
Our integrated web and mobile platform allows group travel providers to
streamline customer support, automate trip operations and enhance the
travelers’ safety. Trip Loop integrates itinerary development, group location
tracking and communication, so companies increase productivity, unlock digital
revenue streams and enhance customer service through the use of Trip Loop.
Travel managers collaborate to create and share real-time
itinerary updates to travelers. If a traveler is lost, managers can find them
in seconds. Trip Loop’s social feed allows the group to share text updates,
messages and photos with other travelers.
Travelers do not need the internet while using our app. The
offline mesh network creates a local network that grows as more users join.
With just 16 users it creates up to a square mile of your own network - perfect
because the average size of a group is 30 people.
What inspired you to create this company?
Trip Loop was inspired by a student group trip that
consisted of 100 high school graduates going to 15 countries in 45 days. Our
CEO, Diego De Stefano, was given a scholarship where he got to attend the trip
- all expenses paid, but in return he’d have to help in the coordination and
logistics in the field. Diego encountered endless stress and pressure and started
to notice a pattern. Behind every stressful situation there was two main issues:
a lack of knowledge from the group (of where they are going/where they are/how
to get there) and decentralized communication. Beyond that, everything was
being done manually, the communication was handled through printed binders,
yelling and inconsistent use of WhatsApp.
That is where Trip Loop was born. However, it wasn’t until
months later when Diego met Daniela (COO) and Diego Garcia (CTO) that Trip Loop
became a reality. We started talking to professors at the University of Texas who
led study abroad experiences. It wasn't long until we learned most universities
source study abroad programs from third-party providers. That’s how we were
introduced to Academic Programs International, one of the top ten study abroad
providers in the US, responsible for thousands of student travelers every year.
We just wanted feedback on how useful Trip Loop could be, and we ended up
discussing pricing and partnerships. That was the moment we realized the
industrial need for Trip Loop.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,
Threats) analysis of the company.
- Culture: communication, innovation, learning. User-based
- Competitive Advantages: Network effects embedded in B2B2C
business strategy; robust mentorship through Plug and Play Accelerator
Resources, Capital Factory Accelerator Resources; team, advisors and investors that
are all highly qualified, with decades of experiences in innovating travel.
- Miscellaneous: Recruiting efforts (internships), use of beta
for data collection, clients before product launch
- Analysis: As an entrepreneurial firm, our strength lies in
our competitive drive and motivation. Our product differentiation and business
model creates opportunities for a low-cost product/market fit and scalable
- Current lack of available financial capital and product
- Public perception of startups: new and risky
- Lack of data/reviews to demonstrate efficacy of product
- Analysis: In the early stages of growth, organizational
weakness due to lack of data and funding is natural, but important to be aware
of. A focus on targeting investors and early adopters of the product will
mitigate the effects. We need strong relationships and communication with early
clients to enhance product.
- Distribution partnerships with global travel agencies,
student travel providers, corporate travel providers, etc.
- Opening new revenue channels for all stakeholders in group
travel, where personalized marketing can be pushed
- Creating a collection of centralized travel behavior and data
- Analysis: Adopting a customer-centric mindset can generate
these opportunities and more. By understanding the needs of the customer and
which segment they fall into, we can provide the most value to them and ensure
our place at the top of their minds.
- Quickly evolving technological landscape
- Competitors access to more resources
- Changing needs of customers
- Analysis: Current threats to Trip Loop come from
competitors’ ability to replicate a successful product into their existing
line. However, because of their size and closed vision, they lack the ability
to create the “best” version of Trip Loop. We benefit from being small enough
to pivot quickly while also being big enough to ensure customers of our
quality. We place additional emphasis on customer retention for success in this
dimension. As we scale and grow our networks, our platform increases in value.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate
from both the customer and the industry perspective?
The travel industry is drowning in "tech debt,” and the
need for innovation and digitalization has never been greater. In the 1970s,
travel was described as a "black box,” because the consumer had minimal
visibility and relied heavily on the providers to guide them. However,
providers are now at the mercy of the consumer. The traveler has been digitally
empowered and has higher tech expectations for every experience. More than 80%
of global travelers and 70% of U.S. travelers now rely on smartphones when
traveling, and the trends are higher when looking at Millennial and Generation
Z, a demographic which will not only dominate and grow the student travel
sector, but also the business travel sector. Consumers have higher expectations
of real-time digital service and personalization. Nearly nine out of 10
travelers expect their travel provider to share relevant information while they
are on their trip, and 67% of travelers feel more loyal toward a travel company
that shares information during their trip that improves their travel experience.
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Although travel technology has advanced significantly, most
tools have focused on the independent traveler and solo travel is increasing.
Group travel has been neglected, and it’s affecting the whole industry - 70% of
group travel providers lack a digitalization process. This is causing
overworked employees, high employee turnover rates and poorly managed travelers.
For instance, 80% of employees in group travel spend most of their time on
highly repetitive, administrative manual tasks. While companies may have
digitalized some processes (i.e using Facebook to communicate/share pics, Google
maps to navigate, or Dropbox to share files), the tools are unfocused and do
not communicate with each-other causing a fragmented experience. Furthermore,
using a social public platform demonstrates lack of branding and
sophistication, since these are the same tools any group trip can use.
Travelers expect an expert experience when traveling with professionals.
Furthermore, using manual or various platforms causes fragmentation in data or
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of
First by solidifying our distribution partnerships and
working closely with them so we have a robust global launch of our platform, that
will allow us to become the leading platform for youth and student group travel.
We will leverage our reputation and customer testimonials on digital media to
exponentially increase our presence and then leadership in the other group
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a
genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
We started with the student travel market, as this is where
we had the most knowledge and connections. Student travel spends more than $183
billion. Before we had a working product, we started working closely with group
travel providers in student and religious travel. This allowed us to create a
user-centric product while developing critical commercial relationships.
Although our beta product wasn’t perfect, it was hyper-concentrated on the real
problems of professionals. That’s why companies have
been comfortable with our paid beta.
Today 1.3 billion people travel in groups every year and
spend $1.7 trillion dollars. We aim to manage 100 million travelers by 2030, 7%
of today’s volume.
How and when will you make money?
We make money by selling our platform to group travel
providers. Pricing is based on the volume of travelers the group travel
providers move annually. On average companies pay $10 per person. We are
working with more than 10 paying companies who handle a volume of 20,000
travelers, which represents an annual re-occurring revenue of $200,000. This
year we project a revenue more than $1 million, which will grow to more than
$10 million in 2021 as we expand beyond the student market.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the
founding team, and why do you have what it takes to succeed with this business?
Diego Garcia is from Chihuahua, Mexico, and he has bachelor’s
and master’s degrees in telecommunications engineering from the University of
Navarra, Spain with his thesis about Trip Loop’s mesh network technology. He is
our CTO and capable of taking our mesh networks to a global scale.
Diego De Stefano is from Saltillo, Mexico and has a
bachelor's degree in international relations and global studies from UT-Austin.
He is a serial entrepreneur, speaks Spanish, English, French and Italian, has
lived in five countries and has a burning passion to lead our team to success.
He is a deep problem solver, with two archived startups he founded prior to
Trip Loop. Diego is passionate about listening and creating the most simple and
Daniela De Stefano is from Bogota, Colombia and has a
bachelor’s degree in environmental science from UT-Austin. She founded the
first farmers’ market at UT, which promptly acquired it. She also led the “Zero
Waste” initiative at college. As a natural leader and scientist, she implements
a strong design-thinking culture. She also leads our research and business
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business
Creating a strong team. “It starts with the team and it ends
with the team” is a mantra we live by. It is one of our competitive advantages
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making
an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
Our business model allows us to acquire customers We have a
robust business strategy that allows us to easily service small and large
enterprises, so we require much less investment to generate recurring revenue.
Our innovative use of offline technologies and customer-centric
development makes customer buy in simple. Furthermore, as we grow our user base
we will add new opportunities for revenue channels for our customers. Once we
become the leading group travel management software for professionals and grow
our brand recognition, we will release a B2C version. Our vision is to change
the way groups travel and impact more group travelers than any agency.
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